What is Demerol (Meperidine)?
Demerol is the brand name of the prescription drug meperidine.
The drug is used to treat moderate-to-severe pain, help put people to sleep before an operation, and provide pain relief after childbirth.
Demerol is classified as a Schedule II (C-II) controlled substance.
Demerol belongs to a class of pain medications called opioid analgesics, which work by binding to receptors on the surface of cells where opium normally binds, and stopping the body from sending pain signals to the brain.
Originally manufactured by Sanofi Aventis, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved Demerol in 1942.
You shouldn't take Demerol if you are allergic to meperidine or any of the drug's inactive ingredients.
Before taking Demerol, you should tell your doctor if you:
Ask your doctor about Demerol if you have or have ever had:
- Kidney or liver problems
- Lung or breathing problems, including asthma or COPD
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Underactive thyroid or underactive adrenal gland
- Stomach problems
- Recent head injury, including a blow to the head or increased pressure inside the skin
- An addiction to alcohol or drugs
- An enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)
Demerol Side Effects
Common Side Effects of Demerol
You should tell your doctor if any of the following side effects are severe or don't go away:
- Dizziness, headache, lightheadedness, sleepiness, and weakness
- Nausea, vomiting, and constipation
- Dry mouth
- Sweating or flushing
- Sudden drop in blood pressure upon standing, or slow heartbeat
- Irritability, nervousness, and unusual thoughts
- Shaking or controllable movement
- Changes in vision
- Itching, rash, or hives
Serious Side Effects of Demerol
You should stop using this medicine and call your doctor if you experience any of the following serious side effects:
- Trouble breathing, shallow breathing, or stopping breathing
- Very low blood pressure, slow heartbeat, and shock
You should tell your doctor about all prescription, non-prescription, illegal, recreational, herbal, nutritional, or dietary drugs you're taking, especially:
- Liposomal morphine
- MAOIs such as Nardil (phenelzine), Matulane (procarbazine), Parnate (tranylcypromine), and Marplan (isocarboxazid)
- Parkinson's drugs like rasagiline, Eldepryl or Zelapar (selegiline), or Emsam (selegiline transdermal)
Other drugs that have serious interactions with Demerol include:
Demerol and Alcohol
Both Demerol and alcohol can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and blurry vision.
Drinking while taking Demerol can make these side effects worse, so try to avoid, or at least limit, alcohol while taking Demerol.
Demerol and Grapefruit Juice
You should avoid eating grapefruit and drinking grapefruit juice while taking Demerol.
Grapefruit juice slows down how quickly the body is able to break down the Demerol, which could cause Demerol levels in the blood to rise dangerously high.
Demerol comes in 50 milligram (mg) and 100 mg tablets, while the injectable liquid comes in vials that contain 25 mg, 50 mg, 75 mg, or 100 mg per milliliter of solution.
If you've never taken Demerol or any other drug belonging to the opioid family, your doctor may start you at a lower dose of 50 mg, every 3 to 4 hours as needed for pain.
A typical dose ranges between 50 mg to 150 mg, every 3 to 4 hours on an as-needed basis.
It's important to only take Demerol if you absolutely need it. This will prevent building tolerance or overdosing on the drug.
Demerol is not intended for long-term pain management, and unless directed by your doctor, you should not take more than 600 mg within a 24-hour period.
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