Side Effects Of Opioid Treatment

Drugs that bind to opioid receptors are increasingly being prescribed for the treatment of many chronic pain conditions. However, their use in acute or chronic pain is well received. Also, side effects are more common with opioid treatment. Between 50% and 80% of patients in clinical trials experience at least one outcome from Opioid Treatment.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs that are naturally occurring in the opium poppy plant and work in the brain to produce a variety of effects, including pain relief with most of these drugs.

However, Opioids can be prescription drugs commonly called painkillers, or they can be called street drugs, such as heroin.

Opioids By Name

Opioids are sometimes called narcotics and although they relieve pain, do not fall into the same category as over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin and Tylenol.

The most commonly used opioids are:

  • Prescription opioids, such as OxyContin and Vicodin

  • Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50–100 times more potent than morphine

  • Heroin, an illegal drug

One Side Effect Of Opioids:

The most common side effect of opioid treatment is constipation. Let’s discuss it:


Constipation is the most common side effect of pain meds called opioids. Most people who take them will need to also take specific medications to get more regular bowel movements.

But some simple habits you can start at home can make a difference, too. Try these tips to get relief.

  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is one of the reasons why many people become constipated, and opioids can make it worse. In addition, it may be difficult to determine the amount of fluid your body needs when you are in pain.

  • Try to take extra H2O throughout the day, even if you drink a little at a time. Hot drinks, such as coffee, tea, or broth, can also make things go away. You can also absorb ice chips, or nosh in watery foods, such as watermelon or berries.

  • Eat extra fiber. It can help maintain your bowels regularly. Another type of fiber, the “soluble” type, is especially helpful in opioid indigestion. You can find it in soft foods when adding water to them, such as oatmeal, barley, and flax. You can also find fiber in fruits (especially prunes and even warm prune juice), vegetables, whole grains, seeds, and nuts.

  • Do not use fiber products containing psyllium. They can make opioid constipation worse.

  • Get started. If you can exercise, go for it. Regardless of the cause, constipation will make your bowels move. Even a small movement can help. Try walking for 10 minutes, stretching, or doing household chores. Talk to your doctor about what kind of work can work for you.

  • Stick to the schedule. Try to go to the bathroom at the same time every day. For most people, it is early in the morning after breakfast. And make sure you have a place to go that feels confidential.

  • Check with some of your medications. Opioids are not the only drugs that can cause constipation. Antihistamines, other antidepressants, other heart medications, and chemotherapy can have similar effects. Check with your doctor to see if any other medications you are taking may be exacerbating the problem.

  • Talk to your doctor if you do not feel comfortable with your diet, exercise, and other habits. They may recommend laxatives, lubricants, or other drugs to make you feel better. 


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