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How can I prevent breathing problems caused by opioid medications?

Travis M. Hendry, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Respiratory depression caused by opioid medications can be prevented by doing the following:

  • Tell your doctor about ALL medications you take, including over-the-counter drugs.
  • Tell your doctor if you have any of these signs associated with sleep apnea: pauses in breathing during sleep, snoring, high blood pressure, or tiredness during the day.
  • Tell those you live with that you are starting a medication that can affect your breathing. Ask them to watch for decreased breathing or the inability to wake up.
  • If breathing problems happen, they should call 911. Health care providers can inject a medication to reverse the problem.

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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.