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Oxycodone Side Effects





Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic and short-acting opioid. As a form of pain-relieving drugs, it is often prescribed by doctors to help people relieve moderate to severe pain.

The chemicals in the medication can change how our central nervous system and brain respond to pain. [1] Oxycodone is also the narcotic component of some common combination drugs, such as Percodan or Percocet.

Taking oxycodone for a long period, often more than several weeks would lead to dependence and tolerance. Addiction may occur regardless of whether you use it as directed or not. [2]

Also, there are a few withdrawal symptoms to be aware of when – whether you have been abusing oxycodone to get high or for medical purposes. In this post, we will discuss all the side-effects, consequences, and risks of taking oxycodone.

What is oxycodone used for?

Oxycodone can help alleviate both chronic and acute pain, ranging from moderate to severe. The drug is most helpful for paroxysmal pain when shooting pain bursts out spontaneously. Doctors usually prescribe oxycodone for the following cases:

  • Cancer-related pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Allodynia
  • Steady pain
  • Paroxysmal pain

Is oxycodone addictive?

When oxycodone is taken in large doses or for an extended period, it might become habit-forming triggering physical or mental dependence.

Tolerance or addiction occurs when the medications affect chemicals and receptors in the brain and central nervous system for a long time that the body might get used to it. As a result, physical dependence may cause withdrawal symptoms once you decide to stop taking oxycodone.

In addition, there might be a risk of overuse headache caused by oxycodone usage. This means that you would develop a rebound headache or oxycodone-induced headache from too frequent consumption.

Restricting to two days each week or fewer would help this symptom. As soon as you notice serious signs, make sure to seek medical attention to prevent further complications.

Can oxycodone cause problems?

Oxycodone can be effective in reducing chronic pain. However, there are many unwanted effects that can affect your quality of life.

Taking oxycodone in a few weeks, even as directed, would increase the risk of dependence or addiction. This condition is caused when the medication affects brain receptors and changes how your body responds to pain.

Therefore, it is important to discuss with your doctor about other treatment options and needed information before taking oxycodone.

Overdosing oxycodone can even lead to life-threatening or serious breathing issues. The risks are especially high during the first 24 to 72 hours of the treatment. Careful monitoring from your doctor is important to prevent any serious complications.

What are the most common side effects of oxycodone?

Along with the expected pain-relieving effects, oxycodone may trigger many possible side effects. Thus, it is important to speak with your doctors and read the labels carefully. [3]

According to a study on 600 patients taking oxycodone, some commonly reported side effects include: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Itching
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness

With dizziness and drowsiness, people should be very cautious when they work at heights, operating heavy machinery, or drive a vehicle.

In addition to some common side effects, taking oxycodone can trigger other health issues. These include mood changes, sleep issues, a lower rate of blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing, impaired kidney function, cough suppression, compromised immune system, and reduced levels of estrogen and androgen.

Some people also report dryness of the mouth. When these signs last for more than a few weeks. It is necessary to check with your doctor.

When you take oxycodone more than the recommended dosage, it would increase the risk of some fatal side effects. The drug would depress the respiration and reduce your blood pressure. As a result, it would trigger cardiac arrest, comas, or seizures.

The risk can even be higher when you inject, snort, or ingest crushed tablets. These methods enhance the euphoric effects of the drug and worsen the symptoms.

In addition, make sure to call your doctor as soon as you notice the following signs: fainting, extremely shallow breathing, dilated pupils, extremely high or low blood pressure, restlessness, and long-lasting tiredness.

What happens when you mix oxycodone with other medications?

Certain medications and supplements should not be taken around the time of using oxycodone. Otherwise, some interactions would occur and reduce the effectiveness of the drugs or even lead to some negative side effects.

To reduce the risk of interactions, your doctor would prescribe carefully. In most cases, oxycodone should not be taken with buprenorphine and anaesthesia medications. Interactions between these medicines can be dangerous.

Some medications can interact with oxycodone and increase the risk of side effects. The list includes monoamine oxidase inhibitors, benzodiazepines, hypnotics, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, anticholinergic drugs, and antipsychotic drugs.

Similarly, the following medicines would increase the amount of oxycodone and make it more likely for the side effects of oxycodone to occur: HIV drugs, antibiotics, antifungal drugs, and anti-arrhythmia drugs.

When you mix oxycodone with several drugs, they would reduce the amount of oxycodone. This decreases the pain-relieving effects. Some examples include anticonvulsants (phenytoin and carbamazepine) and antibiotics (rifapentine, rifabutin, and rifampin).

Does oxycodone make you feel sleepy?

Taking oxycodone can have many negative effects on different aspects of life, and sleep is one of them. Drowsiness is a common side effect of this medication.

Once taken, oxycodone can affect the activities of some brain receptors. This eventually disrupts the usual sleep patterns and leads to the symptom.

While drowsiness seems to be a harmless issue, it would adversely affect your sleep quality in the long run. Due to persistent effects on the central nervous system and the brain, you can suffer from many issues, such as restless sleep, frequent wakeup during the night, insomnia, parasomnia, as well as daytime sleepiness.

Even REM sleep, which is one of the most important stages of sleep, can be disrupted or even blocked.

How to manage constipation caused by oxycodone

Oxycodone works by binding to opioid receptors, which are some forms of proteins in the gastrointestinal tract, spinal cord, and brain. This eventually blocks the ability of the brain to perceive pain. Nevertheless, the medication can also slow down or depress your central nervous system.

The central nervous system plays a key role not only in pain response but also in the regulation of the body’s movements, which include the involuntary movements that aid in digestion. For this reason, taking oxycodone would lead to constipation.

There are many ways to help you alleviate this side effect of oxycodone. Some safe and simple home remedies include eating more high-fibre foods, drinking more fluids, working out more regularly, and avoiding holding in your bowel movements. You can also try a few herbal remedies like senna or aloe vera.

Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms

When you stop taking oxycodone after an extended period of abusing the medication, it would lead to some withdrawal symptoms. These issues occur when the brain and central nervous system cannot adjust quickly to sudden changes.

Symptoms often appear within 8 to 24 hours after the last dose. [4] But if you have been using oxycodone on a regular basis and as directed, then these signs might show up slower, particularly when you are taking extended-release tablets.

The exact signs of oxycodone withdrawal would vary a lot from person to person. Many people have flu-like symptoms, but the level of severity is not the same.

Some of the most commonly reported oxycodone withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Skin-crawling
  • Agitation
  • Heart-pounding
  • Gooseflesh
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Teary eyes
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhoea
  • Cramping,
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Muscle pain [5]

Depending on the situation, the withdrawal process might involve the return of pain. The usage of oxycodone only helps alleviate your chronic pain temporarily. Therefore, the sensation can become worse than it did before you took the medication. This eventually worsens withdrawal symptoms.

The immediate or acute signs of oxycodone withdrawal often peak around day three. After that, they start to subside. Acute symptoms typically last fewer than 5 to 7 days. However, some people would experience long-term or protracted withdrawal, which would last up to 6 months. During this period, you would have agitation, irritability, concentration or memory issues, difficulty sleeping, low levels of energy, and depression.

Signs and symptoms of an oxycodone overdose

Taking too much oxycodone would lead to an overdose. When left untreated, it might be life-threatening and fatal.[6]

Some common symptoms of an oxycodone overdose include clammy or cold skin, muscle weakness, wide or narrow pupils, loss of consciousness, drowsiness, stopping or slowing breathing, and breathing difficulties. When a person has these signs, it is important to contact the emergency services.

To reduce the risk, you should consult your doctor carefully to figure out the recommended dosages. Follow the instructions and avoid consuming more than needed.

If necessary, you can ask for some safer alternatives to help alleviate chronic pain without causing dangerous complications.

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References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24800897

[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-opioids

[3] https://doi.org/10.5055/jom.2010.0063

[4] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6501e1.htm

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310652/

[6] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jcpt.13114

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