What Are the Most Common Hydromorphone Side Effects?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Changes in weight, either gain or loss, are common side effects of hydromorphone.
Changes in weight, either gain or loss, are common side effects of hydromorphone.

Common hydromorphone side effects can include gastrointestinal upset, fatigue, and central nervous system depression. This pain management medication can make patients much more comfortable if they experience chronic or acute pain as a result of surgery, chronic medical conditions, or trauma. It must be administered with care because it comes in several strengths and is sometimes confused with morphine, a similar medication that has a different strength. Patients taking hydromorphone for pain should always double-check the dosing and packaging to confirm they have the right medication.

Hydromorphine may cause some patients to feel tired and "fuzzy."
Hydromorphine may cause some patients to feel tired and "fuzzy."

Like other opioids, this medication can cause gastrointestinal discomfort like nausea, vomiting, bloating, and constipation. These hydromorphone side effects are common, but are a cause for concern if the patient develops tarry or coffee ground-like stool or vomit. Changes in color and texture of this nature can indicate that the patient has internal bleeding, which could be a serious complication. Patients may also notice some weight loss as a result of reduced appetite and vomiting, while others may gain weight because of sedation and inactivity.

Nausea is one possible side effect of using hydromorphone.
Nausea is one possible side effect of using hydromorphone.

Other hydromorphone side effects can involve the central nervous system, which the medication naturally depresses as part of its pain management properties. Patients may experience reduced heart rate and respiration as well as low blood pressure. Some feel tired while on the medication and may develop a sense of cognitive “fuzziness” that makes it hard to complete tasks. These side effects are concerning if they become severe or the patient has a radical drop in heart rate, respiration, or blood pressure.

Hydromorphone may cause fatigue in some individuals.
Hydromorphone may cause fatigue in some individuals.

Some patients can experience mental health problems as hydromorphone side effects. This can include irritation, agitation, or depression. People may develop a sense of hopelessness or frustration which can make it hard to plan ahead into the future as well as to engage in regular daily activities. These symptoms can also be related to the patient’s underlying medical condition, making it hard to determine their origins. Counseling may help if they become severe.

Vomiting is a possible hydromorphone side effect.
Vomiting is a possible hydromorphone side effect.

Patients who become lightheaded, feel like their hearts are pounding in their chests, or appear unresponsive to people trying to rouse them are experiencing severe hydromorphone side effects. They should receive a medical evaluation and treatment because they may be overdosing on the medication or could be unusually sensitive. When people are brought from home to a hospital for treatment, it helps to bring the medication in its packaging so medical providers know exactly what the patient is taking.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Changes in weight, either gain or loss, are common side effects of hydromorphone.
      Changes in weight, either gain or loss, are common side effects of hydromorphone.
    • Hydromorphine may cause some patients to feel tired and "fuzzy."
      Hydromorphine may cause some patients to feel tired and "fuzzy."
    • Nausea is one possible side effect of using hydromorphone.
      Nausea is one possible side effect of using hydromorphone.
    • Hydromorphone may cause fatigue in some individuals.
      Hydromorphone may cause fatigue in some individuals.
    • Vomiting is a possible hydromorphone side effect.
      Vomiting is a possible hydromorphone side effect.
    • Hydromorphone may cause bloating and gastrointestinal discomfort.
      Hydromorphone may cause bloating and gastrointestinal discomfort.
    • Hydromorphone side effects may include low blood pressure.
      Hydromorphone side effects may include low blood pressure.