Taking certain medications during your treatment with meperidine may increase the risk that you will develop serious or life-threatening breathing problems, sedation, or coma. Tell your doctor if you are taking or plan to take any of the following medications: benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Diastat, Valium), estazolam, flurazepam, lorazepam (Ativan), oxazepam, temazepam (Restoril), and triazolam (Halcion); medications for mental illness, nausea, or pain; muscle relaxants; sedatives; sleeping pills; or tranquilizers. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications and will monitor you carefully. If you take meperidine with any of these medications and you develop any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical care: unusual dizziness, lightheadedness, extreme sleepiness, slowed or difficult breathing, or unresponsiveness. Be sure that your caregiver or family members know which symptoms may be serious so they can call the doctor or emergency medical care if you are unable to seek treatment on your own.
Drinking alcohol, taking prescription or nonprescription medications that contain alcohol, or using street drugs during your treatment with meperidine increases the risk that you will experience these serious, life-threatening side effects. Do not drink alcohol, take prescription or nonprescription medications that contain alcohol, or use street drugs during your treatment.
Why is this medication prescribed?
Meperidine is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. Meperidine is in a class of medications called narcotic analgesics, a group of pain medications similar to morphine. It works by changing the way the body senses pain.
How should this medicine be used?
Meperidine comes as a tablet and a syrup (liquid) to take by mouth. It is usually taken with or without food every 3 to 4 hours as needed for pain. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand.
Swallow the tablets whole: do not chew or crush them.
If you are taking meperidine syrup, use a dose-measuring spoon or cup to measure the correct amount of liquid for each dose, not a regular household spoon. Mix your dose with half a glass of water and swallow the mixture. Swallowing undiluted meperidine syrup may numb the mouth.
Your doctor will probably adjust your dose of meperidine during your treatment. Be sure to tell your doctor about any pain and side effects you experience while taking this medication. This will help your doctor find the dose that is best for you.
Meperidine can be habit-forming. Take meperidine exactly as directed. Do not take a larger dose, or take it more often or for a longer period of time than you were told by your doctor. Do not snort or try to inject the tablets. Meperidine may cause serious side effects or death if it is taken or used in these ways.
If you have taken meperidine for longer than a few weeks, do not stop taking the medication without talking to your doctor. Your doctor will probably decrease your dose gradually. If you suddenly stop taking meperidine, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms may include restlessness, watery eyes, stuffy nose, yawning, sweating, chills, muscle pain, irritability, nervousness, stomach pain, upset stomach, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, fast breathing, fast heartbeat, and back pain.
Other uses for this medicine
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking meperidine,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to meperidine, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in meperidine tablets or syrup. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: acyclovir (Zovirax); antidepressants; butorphanol; cimetidine (Tagamet); chlorpromazine; fluphenazine; medications for anxiety, vomiting, and seizures; mesoridazine (Serentil); perphenazine (Trilafon); phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek); prochlorperazine (Compazine, Procomp); ritonavir (Norvir, in Kaletra); thioridazine; and trifluoperazine (Stelazine). Also tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking the following medications or have stopped taking them within the past 2 weeks: monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors including isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Eldepryl), and tranylcypromine (Parnate). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor if you use or have ever used street drugs, if you drink or have ever drunk large amounts of alcohol, and if you recently had surgery. Also tell your doctor if you have or have ever had Addison's disease (a condition in which the body does not produce certain important chemicals); a head injury or a problem with pressure in your head or brain; mental illness; asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or other conditions that affect your breathing; sickle cell anemia (a blood disease); pheochromocytoma (a type of tumor); an abnormally curved spine, especially if it causes breathing problems; enlarged prostate; urethral stricture (narrowing of the opening through which urine leaves the body); irregular heartbeat; seizures; stomach problems; or thyroid, liver, kidney, or lung disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking meperidine, call your doctor.
- you should know that this medication may decrease fertility in men and women. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking meperidine.
- talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking meperidine if you are 65 years of age or older. Older adults should not usually take meperidine because it is not as safe or as effective as other medications that can be used to treat the same condition.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking meperidine.
- you should know that meperidine may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
- you should know that meperidine may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting when you get up too quickly from a lying position. This is more common when you first start taking meperidine. To avoid this problem, get out of bed slowly, resting your feet on the floor for a few minutes before standing up.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
This medication is usually taken as needed. If your doctor has told you to take meperidine regularly, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Meperidine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- extreme calm
- mood changes
- stomach pain or cramps
- dry mouth
- changes in vision
Some side effects can be serious. The following symptoms are uncommon, but if you experience any of them or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
- agitation, hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist), fever, sweating, confusion, fast heartbeat, shivering, severe muscle stiffness or twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, or dizziness
- inability to get or keep an erection
- irregular menstruation
- decreased sexual desire
- slow or difficult breathing
- shaking hands that you cannot control
- changes in heartbeat
- difficulty urinating
Meperidine may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Protect this medication from theft. Medication that is outdated or no longer needed should be flushed down the toilet. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Symptoms of overdose may include the following:
- slowed breathing
- extreme sleepiness
- loose, floppy muscles
- cold, clammy skin
- slow heartbeat
- blurred vision
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. It is against the law to give this medication to anyone else. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.