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Pronounced: DEM-er-awl
Generic name: Meperidine hydrochloride

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

Most important fact about this drug: 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 Nardil and Parnate. When taken with Demerol, they can cause unpredictable, severe, and occasionally fatal reactions.

How should you take this medication: Take Demerol exactly as prescribed. Do not increase the amount or length of time you take this drug without your doctor's approval. 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. Less common or rare side effects may include: Agitation, constipation, difficulty urinating, disorientation, dry mouth, fainting, fast heartbeat, feeling of elation or depression, flushing of the face, hallucinations, headache, hives, impairment of physical performance, itching, low blood pressure, mental sluggishness or clouding, palpitations, rashes, restlessness, severe convulsions, slow heartbeat, tremors, troubled and slowed breathing, uncoordinated muscle movements, visual disturbances, weakness

Why should this drug 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 this medication. Make sure your doctor is aware of any drug reactions you have experienced. Do not take Demerol with MAO inhibitors such as Nardil and Parnate.

Special warnings about this medication: 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. If you have ever had a problem with drug abuse, consult with your doctor before taking this drug. Use Demerol with caution if you have a severe liver or kidney disorder, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland), Addison's disease (adrenal gland failure), an enlarged prostate, a urethral stricture (narrowing of the tube leading from the bladder), a head injury, a severe abdominal condition, or an irregular heartbeat, or if you have ever had convulsions. Be very careful taking this drug 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. Because Demerol may cause unusually slow or troubled breathing and may increase the pressure from fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, this drug should be used by people with 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.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking this medication: Demerol slows brain activity and intensifies the effects of alcohol. Do not drink alcohol while taking this medication. 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: Antidepressant drugs such as Elavil, Tofranil Antihistamines such as Benadryl Cimetidine (Tagamet) Major tranquilizers such as Mellaril and Thorazine MAO inhibitors such as the antidepressant drugs Nardil and Parnate Other narcotic painkillers such as Percocet and Tylenol with Codeine Phenytoin (Dilantin) Sedatives such as Halcion and Restoril Tranquilizers such as Xanax and Valium

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 this medication is essential to your health, your doctor may advise you to discontinue breastfeeding your baby until your treatment is finished.

Recommended dosage: ADULTS: 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. CHILDREN: The usual dosage is 0.5 milligram to 0.8 milligram per pound of body weight, taken every 3 or 4 hours, as determined by your doctor. OLDER ADULTS: Your doctor may reduce the dosage.

Overdosage: 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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