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The Dangers of Painkillers and COPD

The Dangers of Painkillers and COPD

Painkillers have their place in society, but at what cost?

Simply put, opioids are painkillers. And throughout the early 2000’s they were prescribed heavily for the treatment of chronic pain. For those suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), opioids are used to alleviate chronic muscle pain, insomnia, and reduce refractory shortness of breath and cough. Despite the positives opioids present, they come with a variety of negative side effects that can directly challenge the benefits, particularly in their susceptibility for addiction and overdose.

With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to keep you informed on the issues that matter most to those battling chronic lung disease.

Opioid Use in Older Adults

The Dangers of Painkillers and COPD

In a recent study by the British Journal of Pharmacology, researchers analyzed the records of more than 120,000 adults age 66 and older with COPD and found the use of opioids was remarkably high. This is especially dangerous considering that older adults have a higher sensitivity to narcotic side effects.

Between 2003 and 2012, 70 percent of those living in their home and 55 percent of those living in long-term care homes were given a new opioid prescription. Another dangerous conclusion that was discovered was that older adults with COPD– particularly those living in long-term care homes– had a greater potential for abuse, meaning they were given early refills and prescriptions lasting more than 30 days.

During this time, the majority of opioid medications were prescribed by family physicians, with about 88 percent of new prescriptions being a mixture of opioids and non-opioids. Opioid users were also over four times more likely to suffer a fracture than users of traditional, anti-inflammatory drugs, and deaths from any cause were 87 percent greater among opioid users.

Commonly Prescribed Opioids

The Dangers of Painkillers and COPD

  • Codeine
  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine
  • Percocet
  • Endocet
  • Lenoltec

Negative Side Effects

  • Falls and Fractures
  • Confusion
  • Memory Impairment
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Risk of Death
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Depression
  • Respiratory issues
  • Gastrointestinal impairment

On lung health, opioids have the capacity to reduce breathing rates and volume, which can lead to decreased blood oxygen and higher carbon dioxide levels, specifically in those who have chronically compromised lungs.

Safe Practices

The Dangers of Painkillers and COPD

Although opioids may help with shortness of breath, their complications and negative side-effects can come at a high cost. In using pain-relieving medication, opioids should only be used after being prescribed by a primary physician and only for the treatment of chronic pain. Before requesting a prescription for some of the more commonly prescribed opioids, use the lowest form of over-the-counter pain-relievers available such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen as directed.

Despite the potential benefits of using painkillers for COPD, the risks far outweigh the rewards. However for those who suffer from COPD or other lung diseases, there is hope in the form of stem cell therapy and stem cell research which has shown efficacy in addressing the symptoms of lung disease as well its progression.

As the scientific community continues to put their best minds to the task of solving the problems and complications of the human body, the Lung Institute will continue to bring these advancements to the public with the hope of bettering quality of life for those who need it most.

If you’re looking to take control of your health again, don’t wait. If you or a loved one suffers from COPD, or another lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of stem cell treatment options. Contact us at (800) 729-3065 today to find out if you qualify for stem cell therapy.

Are you currently using opioids for COPD? We want to hear from you. Share your thoughts and comments on The Dangers of Opioids and COPD below.


  1. PB

    4 months ago

    Dear Roger,

    We’re sorry to hear about the trouble COPD and chronic arachnoiditis pain have been giving your wife. Because your wife’s doctor knows her, her health situation and her current treatment plan, it’s important to discuss these questions and concerns with her doctors and specialists. Her doctor will be able to best guide you and answer your questions.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  2. Roger Cavanagh

    4 months ago

    My wife was on 300 mg of ms Contin per day. This has now stopped and she is on 15 mg of methadone per day for Chronic arachnoiditis pain. She has been diagnosed with COPD and has been admitted twice to Hospital with breathing problems. The last time was very serious and she was taken of the M>S>Contin. Is there an article you can send me or professional opinion, as her Specialist in his report said she will recover in time. She was a mild smoker of 10 to 15 cigarettes a day she gave up three years ago. She is 66 years of age.
    Can you help

  3. Pingback: Lung Institute | The Dangers of Painkillers and COPD | COPD - MY JOURNEY & YOUR INFO HUB

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