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Precautions and Warnings With Meperidine

Specific Meperidine Warnings and Precautions

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking this drug include the following:
  • Although meperidine has a long-standing tradition as a popular pain reliever, its use has fallen out of favor with most healthcare providers. Meperidine is rather short-acting but is transformed in the body into a toxic metabolite that lasts much longer in the body. If repeated doses of meperidine are needed, the toxic metabolite (normeperidine) builds up and can cause serious side effects (see Side Effects of Meperidine).
For this reason (along with the awareness that meperidine has no specific benefits over other, safer opioids), it is usually recommended that meperidine be avoided if possible in most situations.
  • Meperidine is a narcotic medication with significant potential for abuse. It is not a good choice for people who have a history of alcohol or drug abuse. Do not take the drug more frequently, longer, or at a higher dose than prescribed. If you feel you may be developing a problem with meperidine, please seek help from your healthcare provider.
  • Like any other narcotic, meperidine can cause dizziness and drowsiness, and may increase the risk of falls in elderly people.
  • Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how meperidine affects you. Your reflexes and reaction times may be significantly affected, even if you feel fine.
  • Meperidine can cause slow and irregular breathing, especially at high doses. In severe situations, this may be life-threatening. This may be especially dangerous in people with lung problems.
  • This medication can cause problems in people with head injuries or high intracranial pressure. Meperidine should only be used with extreme caution in such circumstances.
  • Meperidine can interfere with the diagnosis of many conditions that cause severe abdominal (stomach) pain.
  • Check with your healthcare provider before taking the drug if you have hypothyroidism, Addison's disease, an enlarged prostate, kidney disease, liver disease, sickle cell anemia, or epilepsy, as meperidine may not be the best choice for you.
  • Meperidine can potentially interact with several other medications (see Drug Interactions With Meperidine).
  • Meperidine is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are not known (see Demerol and Pregnancy).
  • Meperidine passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Demerol and Breastfeeding).
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