Concerns about side effects of narcotics


Nausea and vomiting

Sedation and confusion

Respiratory depression

Respiratory depression

Respiratory depression refers to a slowing of a person's breathing rate. All narcotics (opioids) can cause respiratory depression. Though this is important, it is a very unusual side effect in people with cancer pain.

When narcotics are adjusted carefully by a knowledgeable health care professional, respiratory depression will not be a problem.

If it occurs to any significant degree while pain is still not relieved, it is a sign that the pain is not completely responsive to narcotics. Other medications, called adjuvant analgesics, are needed to relieve pain that does not respond to narcotics.

Keep in mind that alcohol and other medications may also contribute to this side effect.

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