The choice of medication for managing pain often depends on the intensity of the pain and the type of pain. For instance, pain as a result of trauma, injury or accidents are dealt at healthcare facilities, while pain attributed to health conditions may be managed by prescription medication. Pain that is mild in nature, without the need to treat possible underlying conditions is often handled with OTC or other prescription medications. Oxycodone available in generic as well as various brand names, belongs to the category of prescription pain medication. Let’s look at the drug in detail, with focus on the side effects of oxycodone and medical opinion on softening/preventing the effects.
Overview and side effects of oxycodone
A deeper understanding of the medication and its mechanism of action will help to learn about the side effects of oxycodone in a better manner. Available in different oral formulations, the medication, as mentioned above is prescribed to treat mild or moderate pain. It is available as immediate release tablets/capsules, extended release tablets/capsules and as a liquid solution. Depending on the condition, the medication may also be used in combination with other medications to achieve desired outcomes. Belonging to the category of opioid agonists, that work in a manner similar to the endorphins in the brain. Pain is experienced as a result of the pain stimuli or messages transmitted, and the medication works by imitating the endorphins, thereby decreasing pain experienced by the individuals. In other words, the medication works in the brain by reducing the sensations of pain.
Standard warnings of side effects of oxycodone
Most medications come with standard warnings and it is essential to know all about the warnings issued by the FDA. The medication comes with a black box warning, which essentially alerts doctors and patients of possible adverse effects. By virtue of the mechanism of action of the medication in the brain, it can result in addiction. The FDA has mandated the need for educating medical specialists about opioids when prescribing the same. One of the side effects of oxycodone is the possible change in the breathing pattern of the patient. Consequently, this exposes elderly patients to higher risk, and also puts patients with lung disease at elevated risk levels.
As an opiate, the drug poses a risk to children or adults, who take it accidentally, which will effectively constitute an overdose leading to possible serious side effects. This is especially serious for individuals with existing liver or kidney disease. Other side effects of oxycodone that are highlighted in FDA warnings include the possibility of withdrawal symptoms in newborn babies, if the mother has taken the medication for an extended period during pregnancy. Finally, the medication could also have possible drug interactions with other medications including benzodiazepines that may result in drowsiness or difficulty in breathing.
Ideal dosage to prevent side effects of oxycodone
A significant percentage of side effects of oxycodone is reportedly attributed to incorrect dosage or improper use of the medication. Here is a little compilation of the recommended dosages for different categories of users. The dosages mentioned herein are mainly for the purpose of reference, showing the possible upper dosage limits. It is important to note that the actual dosage will depend on various factors such as the condition, the severity, history of reactions, other medical conditions, and other medications being used. The immediate release tablets are typically available in formulations of 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg and 30 mg. The extended-release formulations are available as 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg and 80 mg.
To avoid side effects of oxycodone adults with moderate or severe pain are advised to take the pain killer once every six hours. Depending on the pain, the dose could be anywhere between 5 mg to 15 mg of the immediate release formulation, as prescribed, with an appropriate increase in dosage as per the requirement. The medication is typically not advised for youngsters, and the actual use depends on specific conditions as evaluate by the treating specialist. Elderly patients are administered lower doses due to the inability of the kidneys to process and flush the drug. When the drug remains for a longer time in the body than desired, it is likely to result in stronger side effects. Consequently, doctors prescribe lower doses, or alter the dosing schedule so as to ensure that lesser amounts of the drug remain in the body. Depending on the condition of elderly patients, doctors may choose a specific formulation alongwith the dosing schedule to keep the drug from accumulating in the body.
The medication is not to be stopped abruptly as this may result in withdrawal symptoms. Specialists typically recommended a gradual reduction of dosage before it is completely stopped. Additionally, it is also necessary to monitor the patient for any noticeable changes that indicate withdrawal symptoms. This includes sudden yawning, or a feeling of restlessness. Withdrawal symptoms can also induce tears, or a running nose. Additionally, the patient may also end up with pain in the muscles, and abnormal sweating that is not attributed to any other condition. Dilated pupils and rigors are other symptoms that indicate possible withdrawal effects.
Avoiding dosage related side effects of oxycodone in special circumstances
In addition to the above, there is also the possibility of individuals moving to oxycodone from other opioid medications. In such circumstances, the dosage is assessed as per various parameters including the dosage of the previous medication. Apart from these circumstances, to avoid side effects of oxycodone, patients with liver disease are generally administered lower doses of the medication to prevent undesirable effects. Ideally, patients with complications in the liver are prescribed a dose as low as half or one third of dose prescribed for patients with healthy liver. All dosage related information provided above is for the purpose of reference, with the actual dosage depending on specific conditions.
Commonly reported side effects of oxycodone
With all the background information outlined above, it is time to look at the commonly reported side effects of oxycodone. Among the undesirable effects reported, the most common is the effect of drowsiness. Individuals on the medication are known to feel drowsy in the period immediately after commencing the medication, and during this period, the patient is expected to avoid handling heavy machinery or driving. These effects are known to subside naturally after the initial phases of taking the medication. Other commonly reported undesirable effects include throbbing headache, and bouts of constipation that is not attributed to other conditions or causes. Vomiting, nausea and a dizzy feeling are also other possible effects that may be experienced by patient on the medication
Side effects of oxycodone include a light headed feeling, and abnormal fatigue despite the absence of any other conditions that are attributable for tiredness. Individuals are also known to experience a dehydrated feeling in the mouth, while others report itching sensations that are sometimes severe in nature. Other possible effects include the inability to either fall asleep or stay asleep. This impacts routines and affects the quality of life of the individual. Lack of adequate sleep is known to have telling effects on the behaviour and abilities of individuals professionally and academically. Profuse sweating is another side effect that affects the individuals in social settings. Most of these effects are known to resolve naturally, without the need for medication or intervention, gradually. However, in certain instances, the effects are persistent in nature and may require medical intervention.
Serious side effects of oxycodone
Apart from the above side effects of oxycodone, there are also effects that are considered as serious in nature. Certain effects may require emergency assistance, in a healthcare setting. For instance, patients who experience serious breathing problems, may require triage at a health care facility. Symptoms of breathing complications include a perceptible slowing of breathing, while in many instances, it could be shallow breathing. Individuals are known to faint in rare circumstances, and this is an indication of serious side effects that need assistance. Dizzy feelings and confusion are other possible reactions that could be experienced by patients on the medication. Sleep apnea, and breathing problems while asleep are other possibilities, that are regarded as serious complications.
Patients on the medication are advised to rise slowly from a resting/reclining position to avoid dizzy feelings that are commonly reported. Other possible complications include the risk of seizures when on the medication. As mentioned above, the medication is known to induce withdrawal symptoms, and it is therefore necessary to plan the cessation of the medication in a graded manner. Individuals who stop the medication abruptly are likely to experience possible withdrawal symptoms including feelings of restlessness. The patient may find it difficult to fall asleep, while some may experience an abnormal increase in blood pressure levels. Apart from feelings of anxiety and an easily irritated disposition, the patient may also experience an increase in heart rate and breathing rate. The pupils are likely to dilate, while some may find overactive tear ducts causing tearing. Withdrawal symptoms are typically similar to some of the side effects of oxycodone. The manifestation of certain symptoms after stopping the medication are a clear indication of withdrawal effects.
Additional withdrawal symptoms that are not similar to side effects of oxycodone include pain in the back and the muscles. Patients also report feeling chill after abruptly stopping the medication. Another possible effect is androgen deficiency that is best characterised by feelings of tiredness, and a distinct reduction in energy levels. Patients with androgen deficiency are likely to experience difficulty in falling asleep. Finally, the medication is also known to trigger drug interactions when taken alongside other medications. This includes prescription medications, OTC formulations, health supplements and vitamins, apart from herbal remedies. Medications that result in drug interactions include buprenorphine, and other drugs that are used as anesthetics, benzodiazepines, anti-depressants such as MAOIs, psychotropic agents, muscle relaxants, and medications that are classified as hypnotic drugs. Medications that belong to the category of antipsychotic drugs, antifungals, antibiotics and ARV drugs for treating HIV are also known to trigger drug interactions. Anticonvulsants are also known to result in drug interactions when taken alongside oxycodone. It is necessary to seek medical advice regarding possible drug interactions, prior to starting treatment with oxycodone.