Drugs Home > Meperidine

Meperidine is a prescription medication that was once commonly used for pain relief. Due to its ability to produce serious side effects, healthcare providers now rarely recommend this product. The drug can be taken orally (tablets or oral solution) or administered by injection (intramuscularly, subcutaneously, or through IV). Some of the common side effects that have been reported include nausea, drowsiness, and dizziness.

What Is Meperidine?

Meperidine hydrochloride (Demerol®) is an opiate pain reliever. Although it was a very popular pain reliever for decades, it has fallen out of favor in recent years due to its ability to produce a unique group of serious side effects. As a result, its use is usually limited to very specific situations in which other medications are not appropriate.
Meperidine is a narcotic and is a "controlled substance" in the United States.
(Click What Is Meperidine Used For? for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Potential Side Effects

As with any medicine, meperidine can cause side effects. However, not everyone who takes the drug will experience side effects. Most people tolerate it quite well.
If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or can easily be treated by you or your healthcare provider. Serious side effects are less common.
Common meperidine side effects include, but are not limited to:
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating.
(Click Side Effects of Meperidine to learn more, including potentially serious side effects that you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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