Can I take painkillers if I have asthma?

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

If you have severe asthma or are experiencing an acute attack of asthma, you should not use Embeda (morphine and naltrexone), a time-release form of morphine for treatment of moderate to severe chronic pain. (The naltrexone in Embeda is meant to prevent abuse of the drug against the most serious dangers of an overdose if someone crushes, chews or dissolves the capsule in order to release all the morphine at once.) 

The morphine in Embeda, like all opioids, depresses the central nervous system, which may make breathing more difficult. If your asthma is not severe and is under control, your doctor may prescribe Embeda. In that case, he or she is likely to take extra precautions to make sure that your asthma is well controlled and your breathing is monitored.

Don't take the prescription pain medication Magnacet (oxycodone and acetaminophen) if you have acute or severe bronchial asthma. Magnacet can interfere with your ability to breathe if you have either of these conditions. If you have asthma that is not severe, you should still be sure your doctor knows about it before you take Magnacet. He or she may want to monitor you carefully or give you a different drug.

You should not take OxyContin (oxycodone) if you have severe asthma. OxyContin belongs to a family of pain-relieving drugs called opioid analgesics. These medications can interfere with normal breathing, so they're not prescribed to people who have severe, hard-to-control asthma. However, if you have a history of mild asthma, your doctor may feel that OxyContin is appropriate for you. Discuss your entire medical history with your doctor before taking OxyContin.

You should not take Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen) if you have acute or severe bronchial asthma. Because Percocet contain oxycodone, a narcotic that can slow breathing, the drug can interfere with your ability to breathe if you have either type of asthma. Percocet is prescribed to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. If your doctor wants to prescribe it for you, speak up about your asthma so that he or she can find a pain relief medication that's safe for you to take.

If you have asthma, you may not be able to take Percodan, a strong pain reliever that is a combination of oxycodone and aspirin. Opioid medications like oxycodone can cause breathing to be shallow or slow, which can be particularly dangerous for people who already have respiratory trouble such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Your doctor can tell you if Percodan is appropriate for you.

If you have a history of asthma, it's likely your doctor will be cautious about prescribing Tylox (acetaminophen and oxycodone) for you. This drug, which is used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain on an as-needed basis, contains oxycodone, an opioid (narcotic) pain reliever. Like other opioids, oxycodone can slow respiration, which could be dangerous for someone who already has trouble breathing. Tylox also contains acetaminophen, a pain reliever that can make breathing problems even more pronounced in people who are sensitive to aspirin.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.