Demerol (meperidine) is an opioid pain medication. An opioid is sometimes called a narcotic.
Demerol is a strong prescription pain medicine that is used to manage the relief short-term pain, when other pain treatments such as non-opioid pain medicines do not treat your pain well enough or you cannot tolerate them.
Careless use of Demerol can put you at risk of overdose and death. Even if you take your dose correctly as prescribed you are at risk for opioid addiction, abuse, and misuse that can lead to death.
You should not use Demerol if you have severe asthma or breathing problems.
Do not use Demerol if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days, such as isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, or tranylcypromine.
Demerol can slow or stop your breathing, and may be habit-forming. MISUSE OF THIS MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription.
Using this medicine during pregnancy may cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the newborn.
Fatal side effects can occur if you use Demerol with alcohol, or with other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing.
Before using this medicine
You should not use Demerol if you are allergic to meperidine, or if you have:
- severe asthma or breathing problems; or
- a blockage in your stomach or intestines.
Do not use Demerol if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, and others.
To make sure Demerol is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:
- a head injury, brain tumor, or seizures;
- breathing problems, sleep apnea;
- drug or alcohol addiction, or mental illness;
- a blockage in your stomach or intestines;
- urination problems;
- liver or kidney disease;
- problems with your gallbladder, adrenal gland, or thyroid;
- sickle cell anemia; or
- abnormal curvature of the spine that affects breathing.
If you use Demerol while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on opioids may need medical treatment for several weeks.
Side effects requiring immediate medical attention
Along with its needed effects, meperidine (the active ingredient contained in Demerol) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking meperidine:
Incidence not known
- blurred vision
- chest pain or discomfort
- cold, clammy skin
- darkening of the skin
- decrease in the frequency of urination
- decrease in urine volume
- difficult or troubled breathing
- difficulty in passing urine (dribbling)
- difficulty with swallowing
- dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
- fast, slow, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
- feeling of warmth
- hives, itching, or skin rash
- irregular, fast, slow, or shallow breathing
- lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
- loss of appetite
- mental depression
- muscle twitching or jerking
- overactive reflexes
- painful urination
- pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
- poor coordinatio