Can long term use of opioids cause respiratory problems and is it time for a change?
The straight answer is ‘yes’, according to Desert Home Treatment who say that ‘ The long-term effects of opioids on the bowels are significant, but it is the damage they do to the respiratory system that is behind most of the overdoses and fatalities that are related to opioid use. As opioids depress the central nervous system, they directly interfere with the body’s breathing mechanisms.’
Science Daily pointed out that ‘ Opioids are highly effective at killing pain, but they can also kill people by depressing their breathing and at the same time sedating them so that it can be impossible for them to wake up from oxygen deprivation,” says Richard Horner, a professor in the departments of Medicine and Physiology.’
Most pain killers opioids or otherwise can cause side effects but they tend to improve shortly after starting the treatment or following an intended dose increase. The most common side effect being constipation and itching but a respiratory problem is feared by many. They say it is mostly a concern in acute pain management where patients have not developed tolerance.
So should we be right to be sceptical about taking opioids for long term pain when they keep appearing in the news as sceptical ? Drug Abuse has written a great article on a ‘Need for Change’ with a list of 10 opiate alternatives. They include –
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
Serotonin and Norephinephrine
Physical Therapy Massage, Acupuncture and Chiropractic Care
It’s certainly something to ponder about.