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Drugs reference index «Demerol»



Generic name: Meperidine hydrochlorideBrand names: Demerol

Why is Demerol prescribed?

Demerol, a narcotic analgesic, is prescribed for the relief of moderate to severe pain.

Most important fact about Demerol

Do not take Demerol if you are currently taking drugs known as MAO inhibitors or have used them in the previous 2 weeks. Drugs in this category include the antidepressants phenelzine and tranylcypromine. When taken with Demerol, they can cause unpredictable, severe, and occasionally fatal reactions.

How should you take Demerol?

Take Demerol exactly as prescribed. Do not increase the amount or length of time you take Demerol without your doctor's approval. Likewise, do not abruptly stop taking Demerol, since this could increase the risk of withdrawal symptoms.

If you are using Demerol in syrup form, take each dose in a half glass of water.

  • If you miss a dose...Take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and go back to your regular schedule. Never take 2 doses at once.
  • Storage instructions...Store at room temperature. Protect from heat.

What side effects may occur?

Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking Demerol.

  • More common side effects may include:Dizziness, light-headedness, nausea, sedation, sweating, vomiting

If any of these side effects occur, it may help if you lie down after taking the medication.

Why should Demerol not be prescribed?

If you are sensitive to or have ever had an allergic reaction to Demerol or other narcotic painkillers, you should not use Demerol. Make sure your doctor is aware of any drug reactions you have experienced.

Do not take Demerol with MAO inhibitors such as phenelzine and tranylcypromine.

Special warnings about Demerol

Demerol may affect you both mentally and physically. You should not drive a car, operate machinery, or perform any other potentially hazardous activities until you know how the drug affects you.

You can build up tolerance to, and both mental and physical dependence on, Demerol if you take it repeatedly. Since it is possible that you could become addicted to Demerol, do not use it for any purpose other than what your doctor has prescribed it for. If you have ever had a problem with drug abuse, consult with your doctor before taking Demerol.

Do not abruptly stop using Demerol, especially if you have been taking it for a while. Your doctor will have you gradually taper off Demerol to reduce the risk of withdrawal symptoms, including restlessness, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, rapid heartbeat or breathing, increased blood pressure, or flu-like symptoms.

Use Demerol with caution if you have any of the following: a severe liver or kidney disorder, sickle cell anemia, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland), adrenal gland dysfunction or tumor, an enlarged prostate, a urethral stricture (narrowing of the tube leading from the bladder), a severe abdominal condition, an irregular heartbeat, a history of convulsions, or a history of alcoholism (including alcohol withdrawal marked by delirium tremens).

Be very careful taking Demerol if you are having a severe asthma attack, if you have frequently recurring lung disease, if you are unable to inhale or exhale extra air when needed, or if you have any pre-existing breathing difficulties.

Use Demerol with caution if you have suffered any type of head injury. This medication may cause unusually slow or troubled breathing and may increase the pressure from fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Demerol should be used by people with a head injury only if the doctor considers it absolutely necessary.

Demerol may make you feel light-headed or dizzy when you get up from lying down.

Before having surgery, make sure the doctor knows you are taking Demerol. Combining Demerol with a general anesthetic could cause serious side effects.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking Demerol

It's very important not to combine Demerol with any sleep medications or tranquilizers, since this combination could cause serious injury or death.

Demerol slows brain activity and intensifies the effects of alcohol. Do not drink alcohol while taking Demerol.

If Demerol is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Demerol with the following:

AcyclovirAntidepressant drugs such as amitriptyline or imipramineBuprenorphineButorphanolCimetidineGeneral anesthetics such as midazolamMajor tranquilizers (phenothiazines) such as chlorpromazine and thioridazineMAO inhibitors such as the antidepressant drugs phenelzine and tranylcypromine.Muscle relaxants such as carisoprodol and chlorzoxazoneNalbuphineOther narcotic painkillers such as codeine and oxycodonePentazocinePhenytoinRitonavirSedatives such as temazepam and triazolamSleep aids such as zaleplon and zolpidemTranquilizers such as alprazolam and diazepam

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Do not take Demerol if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant unless you are directed to do so by your doctor. Demerol appears in breast milk and could affect a nursing infant. If Demerol is essential to your health, your doctor may advise you to discontinue breastfeeding your baby until your treatment is finished.

Recommended dosage for Demerol


The usual dosage of Demerol is 50 milligrams to 150 milligrams every 3 or 4 hours, determined according to your response and the severity of the pain.


The usual dosage is 1.1 milligrams to 1.8 milligrams per 2.2 pounds of body weight, taken every 3 or 4 hours, as determined by your doctor.

It's best to consult your doctor before giving Demerol to newborns or very young infants.


Your doctor may reduce the dosage.


  • Symptoms of Demerol overdose include:Bluish discoloration of the skin, cold and clammy skin, coma or extreme sleepiness, limp, weak muscles, low blood pressure, slow heartbeat, troubled or slowed breathing

With severe overdose, a person may stop breathing, have a heart attack, and even die.

If you suspect an overdose, seek emergency medical treatment immediately.

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