Opiate narcotic pain relievers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and codeine can be extremely useful for treating moderate or severe pain. However, there are many downsides to utilizing such potent medications – even though they are generally effective. The most widely recognized downside is the habit-forming nature of these medications. Even when taken exactly as prescribed, medications like hydrocodone and oxycodone can result in physical and psychological dependence in a relatively short period.
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Opiate Addiction and The Side Effects
Aside from the risk of addiction, it is estimated that close to 80 percent of all individuals who are using an opiate narcotic medication experience at least one side effect during their treatment course. Some additional physical side effects include:
- Dry mouth and dehydration
- Profuse sweating
- Weight gain
- A loss of appetite can lead to weight loss
- Excessively dry skin
- Sexual dysfunction
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessively itchy skin
These are not the side effects associated with opiate abuse – these are side effects that any individual prescribed an opiate painkiller is liable to experience. In addition to these physical side effects, many behavioral and psychological side effects can occur. However, the physical side effects are generally more prevalent when a medical professional takes the medication as prescribed. Out of all physical side effects, one of the most disruptive is excessively itchy skin.
Why Do Opiates Make You Itch?
What is in opiates that makes the skin itch severely, and what can be done to prevent this side effect? New data published in the Natural Chemical Biology journal suggests that some opioids can trigger an immune system response that affects one of the significant receptor proteins on mast cell surfaces. Mast cells are an essential part of the immune system, and they respond to specific inflammatory agents – like histamine – causing what appears to be an allergic reaction.
While it is still not well understood why some opiate narcotics lead to intense itching, it is known that some people have a more intense physical reaction than others. If you have been prescribed an opiate painkiller like codeine or morphine and you experience severe itching after taking the medication, it is a good idea to contact your healthcare provider immediately. There are many safe alternatives for the effective treatment of moderate or severe pain.
How do I stop the itching from opiates?
Researchers at Washington University report that nalfurafine hydrochloride, branded as Remitch, can provide relief from the intense itching that can be a side effect of opioid therapy.
What are alternatives to opioids?
- Therapies: Acupuncture. Cold and heat. Exercise and movement. Massages. Occupational Therapy. Physical Therapy. …
- Medications: Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) Anesthetics. Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (e.g., Aspirin, Ibuprofen)
Symptoms of Opiate Abuse Include Itching
In some cases, an individual will continue to take an opiate medication despite uncomfortable physical side effects like itchy skin. If this is the case, it might be because an opioid abuse disorder is present. If you believe that you or someone you love has been struggling with an opiate abuse disorder, there are several telltale symptoms to keep an eye out for, including:
- Intense psychological cravings
- Continued use of opiate medications despite personal consequences about relationships, finances, or legal issues
- The building of a physical tolerance
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when opiate use is stopped suddenly
- Physical symptoms like restricted pupils, excessive sweating, shallow breathing, and slurred speech
- Nausea, vomiting, and chronic constipation
- A lack of interest in hobbies and activities that were previously enjoyed
- More time spent isolated from friends and family members
If you believe that you or someone you love has struggled with an opiate abuse disorder, reaching out for professional help is always necessary. Opiate addiction is a cunning, baffling, and powerful disease, and it cannot be effectively overcome without help.
Garden State Treatment Center and Opiate Abuse Recovery
At Garden State Treatment Center, we provide men and women of all ages throughout New Jersey and all surrounding areas with a comprehensive program of opiate addiction recovery. Please feel free to reach out to us today for more information on a recovery program.
Why do Opiates make you itch?
Opiates, also known as opioids, can indeed cause itching as one of their side effects. This is largely because these substances influence a wide variety of receptors throughout the body, not just those responsible for pain relief.
- Histamine release: Opioids can trigger certain cells in your body (mast cells) to release histamine, a substance involved in allergic reactions. This release can cause a variety of symptoms, one of which is itching or pruritus.
- Central Nervous System Effects: Opioids also act on the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. Some research suggests that itching related to opioid use may be due to these central effects, possibly related to specific receptors in the brain that are activated by these drugs.
- Mu Opioid Receptor Activation: These are the primary receptors that opioids bind to. Their activation can lead to itching, particularly with drugs that have a high affinity for these receptors.
- Metabolites: In some cases, metabolites (substances formed when the body processes, or metabolizes, a drug) of opioids might be more likely to cause itching than the original drug itself.
It’s worth noting that not everyone who uses opioids will experience itching, and the severity of this side effect can vary widely among those who do. However, if you’re using opioids and have concerns about side effects, you should discuss these concerns with your healthcare provider.
Are Opiates safe to take if it makes you itch?
If you experience itching as a side effect of taking opiates, it is important to discuss this with your healthcare provider. Itching, also known as pruritus, is a common side effect of opiates, and it can range from mild to severe. While itching alone may not necessarily be a cause for alarm, it is essential to consider other factors and potential risks associated with opiate use. Here are some considerations:
- Allergic Reaction: Itching can sometimes be a symptom of an allergic reaction to opiates. In some cases, this can be accompanied by other symptoms such as rash, hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention.
- Other Side Effects: Itching is just one of the many possible side effects of opiates. Opiates can also cause other side effects, such as constipation, nausea, drowsiness, and respiratory depression. Your healthcare provider can help assess the overall risk-benefit balance of opiate use based on your specific situation.
- Alternative Pain Management Options: If the itching from opiates is bothersome or if you have concerns about the side effects, your healthcare provider may explore alternative pain management options. There are various non-opioid medications, physical therapies, and complementary approaches available that may help manage pain while minimizing side effects.
- Tolerance and Dependence: Long-term use of opiates can lead to tolerance, where higher doses may be required to achieve the same level of pain relief. This can increase the risk of side effects and potential dependence. Regular communication with your healthcare provider is essential to monitor the effectiveness and safety of your pain management regimen.
Always consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication regimen or treatment plan. They can evaluate your specific situation, provide personalized advice, and explore alternative options if necessary to ensure both pain relief and your overall well-being.
What is nalfurafine?
Nalfurafine is a medication that is primarily used to alleviate itching (pruritus) in patients with chronic kidney disease who are undergoing dialysis. It is known as an opioid receptor agonist, but it is selective for the kappa opioid receptor subtype. By acting on kappa opioid receptors in the central nervous system, nalfurafine can reduce the sensation of itchiness.
Nalfurafine is different from typical opioids like morphine or oxycodone, which mainly act on the mu-opioid receptors and are used for pain relief. Because nalfurafine selectively acts on kappa receptors, it does not have the pain-relieving properties or the same abuse potential as traditional opioids.
As with any medication, nalfurafine should be used under the supervision of a healthcare provider, who can provide guidance on the appropriate use and monitoring for any side effects or interactions with other medications.
What are some safe medications that will relieve my pain without the discomfort of itching?
It’s important to understand that individuals can react differently to medications, and what may cause itching or discomfort in one person may not have the same effect on another.
That being said, itching can sometimes be a side effect of certain pain medications, especially opioids. If you are experiencing itching as a side effect of a medication you are taking for pain, it’s important to discuss this with a healthcare provider. They can offer guidance and may suggest trying a different type of pain medication or recommend an antihistamine to help alleviate the itching.
There are various types of pain medications, including:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol): Usually well-tolerated and less likely to cause itching compared to opioids.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Such as ibuprofen or naproxen. These are commonly used for pain relief and are usually not associated with itching, but they can have other side effects, especially with long-term use.
- Topical Analgesics: Creams, gels, or patches that are applied directly to the skin over the painful area. Examples include lidocaine and diclofenac gel.
- Antidepressants and Anticonvulsants: Sometimes used for chronic pain conditions, especially nerve pain.
- Alternative or Adjunctive Therapies: Such as physical therapy, hot or cold packs, and certain supplements, which can sometimes help manage pain without the need for medications.
It’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider for personalized medical advice and to ensure that any medications or treatments are appropriate for your specific health situation. Your healthcare provider can help you weigh the risks and benefits of different pain relief options and make an informed decision on how to manage your pain effectively.