What Is Oxymorphone?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist

Oxymorphone is a generic medication commonly prescribed to alleviate moderate to severe pain. It is not typically used for pain after a surgery, unless the patient had already taken it prior to undergoing the procedure. This drug is a narcotic pain reliever. Patients should be aware that oxymorphone can be habit-forming, especially when it is used for a long period of time or in high dosages.


This pain reliever must be taken on an empty stomach, with a full glass of water. Those who experience nausea or stomach upset must still refrain from taking the tablet with food, because this can increase the risk of other side effects by causing too much of the medicine to be absorbed into the body. The extended-release tablet may usually be taken once daily, while the regular oxymorphone tablet may be taken every four to six hours. Patients are advised not to abruptly discontinue this drug, because it can cause withdrawal effects. A doctor will gradually decrease the dosage to prevent the patient from experiencing sweating, restlessness, or diarrhea, as well as other withdrawal symptoms.

Some side effects may occur with the use of oxymorphone, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they become severe. Patients may experience increased sweating, lightheadedness, and drowsiness. Nausea, vomiting, and a fever may also occur, along with dizziness. Some people may become constipated, which may be alleviated with a high-fiber diet and consumption of plenty of water. Those who choose to use an over-the-counter laxative should consult their pharmacist or doctor.

More serious side effects can also occur, which require immediate medical attention. Some patients may experience vision changes, difficulty urinating, and slow or shallow breathing. A rapid or irregular heartbeat, mood changes, and fainting have also been reported. Signs of a possible overdose of oxymorphone can include pinpoint pupils, a weak pulse, and cold or clammy skin.

Before using oxymorphone, patients must disclose their other medical conditions. As of 2011, it is unknown whether this drug may pass into breast milk. It is strongly recommended that women who are pregnant avoid this drug, because it can cause adverse reactions in their unborn babies. Oxymorphone may be contraindicated for use by those who have kidney or liver disease, intestinal diseases, or heart problems. Brain disorders, severe obesity, and a history of drug or alcohol abuse can also preclude a patient from using this narcotic pain reliever.

Patients must also disclose their other medications and supplements. Oxymorphone may interact with other drugs, including diuretics, buprenorphine, and procarbazine. Other medications for pain, scopolamine, and furazolidone can also interact with it.

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