The side effects of opioids and other pain medications have been well studied and can be managed effectively. Many of the most common side effects of pain medications are symptoms of other conditions, including cancer. This is why different methods of symptom management are important.
Opioids can slow breathing, especially at high doses. The condition is usually resolved as the body becomes accustomed to the drug. Additional drugs can be prescribed to treat these side effects. This whole condition is also known as respiratory depression.
What is respiratory depression?
Respiratory depression refers to the feeling of having a reduced urge for breathing. It can form a pattern similar to sighing when breathing, which is defined as deep breathing with a long pause between you. Sedation occurs along with respiratory depression caused by opiate use.
If opiates are taken in high doses, or the drugs are mixed with one another, the effect of respiratory depression can be fatal. However, The risk of respiratory depression increases with increased use of opiates.
Then there is respiratory failure. This is when a person begins to faint, or stops breathing. When this happens, the person will start to turn blue and, in most cases, this is why people are dying from opioid overdose.
How Opiates Cause Respiratory Depression?
How opiates cause respiratory depression can be understood by considering the fact that these drugs are central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Our CNS is responsible for controlling our breathing and controlling our heartbeat.
The concept of how opiates cause respiratory depression is complex, but in theory, it is simple. When you take opiates, they hold your CNS, which in turn slows your breathing. The more opiates you take, the slower your breathing will be.
One of the first signs of opiate overdose is a person with a respiratory rate of less than 12 breaths per minute. Other symptoms commonly associated with significant respiratory depression during opioid overdose include students who identify, appear confused, have trouble staying awake, strange mood swings, slow movements, nausea and uncontrollable vomiting.
If someone seems to be overdosing on an opioid and is experiencing visible respiratory depression, you will probably need an opioid antagonist like naloxone. This is a drug designed to relieve respiratory depression, although this may not always work – especially if heavy drinking involves a combination of other drugs.
Respiratory depression is one of the most serious side effects of opiates use and understanding how opiates cause respiratory depression can be an important part of preventing excessive death.
Slow breathing can result in low oxygen levels in the body. The most noticeable symptoms of slowed breathing due to opioids intake or any other drug overuse also known as bradypnea are similar to those of oxygen deprivation.
The symptoms of bradypnea include:
Treatment and outlook
A person’s breathing rate is one of their most important symptoms, as well as blood pressure, body temperature, and pulse. Medical professionals often measure these important symptoms as the results provide a quick overview of the basic functions of a person.
The perception of people with bradypnea also known as slow breathing due to drugs intake depends largely on the conditions or physical conditions they face.
For example, when an overactive thyroid is a cause, thyroid medications can help restore normal breathing and other digestive functions.
When shortness of breath is due to a complex cause, such as heart disease, doctors may prescribe additional respiration and oxygen to ensure that the body’s tissues receive adequate oxygen.
Heart problems are a major cause of death. When bradypnea is associated with heart problems, a person usually needs complete treatment for the underlying cause.
Fortunately, the same medications that doctors prescribe to treat heart failure can improve lung function.
If an opiate or alcohol abuse causes bradypnea, treatment can usually allow people to recover from the immediate effects.
Ongoing research on the health effects of respiratory health, a practice in which people try to fully monitor their breathing internally and externally, may reveal important health benefits in many respiratory conditions, including bradypnea.
For example, some people deliberately try to slow down their breathing. As part of some yoga, meditation, and biofeedback techniques, people gradually slow down and increase their mood as a way to relax.
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