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  • Generic Name: (meperidine hydrochloride)
    Other Brands: Demerol
  • Last Revised: 03/2014
    • What is this medication and its most common uses?

      Meperidine is a medicine used for the relief of moderate to severe short-term pain. Meperidine is available as tablets and an oral solution.

      Meperidine is a federally controlled substance because it has abuse potential.

    • What should I know when beginning and continuing on this medication?

      How does this medication work?

      Meperidine works in your central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and affects the way your body responds to pain.

      Meperidine is not used to treat pain that is expected to last a long period.

      What are the beneficial effects of this medication and when should I begin to have results?

      What: Meperidine has been shown to help relieve pain.

      When: Everyone responds differently to treatment, so try to be patient and follow your healthcare provider's directions. It is important that you take meperidine exactly as your healthcare provider has prescribed.

      How do I know it is working?

      You may feel an improvement in your pain. This is a good indicator that the medicine is working. Your healthcare provider may also ask you questions from time to time to assess how well your symptoms are controlled with treatment.

    • What are the possible side effects of this medication?

      The following is not a full list of side effects. Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Only your healthcare provider can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this medication.

      More common side effects may include: lightheadedness, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, sweating.

      Less common side effects may include:

      Serious breathing problems with symptoms such as slowed or shallow breathing (little chest movement with breathing); feeling faint, dizzy, or confused; or other unusual symptoms.

      Sudden fall in your blood pressure with symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting when rising too quickly from a sitting or lying position.

      Meperidine may increase your heart rate or worsen seizures in people who have seizure disorders.

      Meperidine has abuse potential. If you have concerns, talk to your healthcare provider for more information about abuse and addiction. Do not share meperidine with others and take steps to protect meperidine from theft or misuse.

    • Who should not take this medication?

      Do not take meperidine if you are allergic to them or any of their ingredients.

      Do not take meperidine if you take another medicine called a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) (such as phenelzine, selegiline, or linezolid), a class of medications used to treat depression and other conditions. Do not start taking meperidine if you stopped taking an MAOI in the last 2 weeks, unless directed to do so by your healthcare provider.

    • What should I tell my healthcare provider before I take the first dose of this medication?

      Tell your healthcare provider about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with meperidine. Also, talk to your healthcare provider about your complete medical history, especially if you have trouble breathing or lung problems (such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or cor pulmonale); a head injury or brain problems; heart, liver, kidney, thyroid, or adrenal gland (such as Addison's disease or pheochromocytoma [a tumor of the adrenal glands]) problems; seizures; sickle cell anemia; problems urinating or enlargement of your prostate; mental health problems; constipation; a history of drug or alcohol addiction or a family history of these problems; or if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

    • What is the usual dosage?

      The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your healthcare provider uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your healthcare provider may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your healthcare provider's approval.

      Adults: The usual dose is 50 to 150 milligrams every 3 to 4 hours, as needed for pain.

      Your healthcare provider may adjust your dose as needed, until the desired effect is achieved.

      Children: Your healthcare provider will prescribe the appropriate dose for your child, based on his/ her weight.

      It is important that you do not stop taking this medication abruptly. If you need to change or stop taking this medication, it is important that you only do this with the guidance of your healthcare provider.

    • How should I take this medication?

      Take meperidine exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not change your dose or stop taking meperidine without first talking to your healthcare provider.

      If you or your child is taking meperidine oral solution, take each dose in half a glass of water.

      If you are taking meperidine tablets, flush the remaining tablets down the toilet when you stop taking the medicine.

    • What should I avoid while taking this medication?

      Do not drink alcohol or take prescription or over-the-counter medicines that contain alcohol while you are taking meperidine.

      Do not drive a car, operate machinery, or engage in other dangerous activities until you know how meperidine affect you.

    • What are the possible food and drug interactions associated with this medication?

      If meperidine is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your healthcare provider before combining meperidine with the following: acyclovir, alcohol, certain pain medicines (such as buprenorphine, butorphanol, nalbuphine, or pentazocine), cimetidine, muscle relaxants (such as cyclobenzaprine or carisoprodol), other medicines that may make you sleepy (alprazolam, chlorpromazine, diazepam, or morphine), phenytoin, or ritonavir.

    • May I receive this medication if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

      The effects of meperidine during pregnancy are unknown. Meperidine may be found in your breast milk if you take it while breastfeeding. Do not take meperidine while you are breastfeeding. Tell your healthcare provider immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

    • What should I do if I miss a dose of this medication?

      If you miss a dose of meperidine, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and return to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take two doses at once.

    • How should I store this medication?

      Store at room temperature.

    • Who should I contact in case of emergency or overdose?
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      In the event of a medical emergency call your doctor or 9-1-1 immediately. In the event of overdose, call your doctor or poison control for further instructions.
      National Poison Control#: Call 1-800-222-1222

      This PDR+ drug information has been developed by the Physicians’ Desk Reference Network (PDRN), a source of medication information trusted by doctors for over 65 years.

      This monograph summarizes the most important information about your medication and does not cover all the information you may need. If you have any questions or concerns or want to learn more about your medication, ask your healthcare provider; he/she will be able to provide answers to your questions. This medication should only be used by the patient for whom it was prescribed and should not be shared with other people.
    • Additional patient resources.
      back to top Use your PDR® Pharmacy Discount Card when you or a family member fills a prescription and ask for your PDR® Discount every
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