Pain Medicine Side Effects: Care Instructions

When you go to a medical facility in pain, you may get a strong medicine to give you relief. The medicine may be given in a vein (by IV) or as an injection (shot). Examples of this type of pain medicine include fentanyl, hydromorphone, and morphine. While these medicines help relieve pain, they also have side effects.

For your safety, it’s important that you know how this strong pain medicine affects you. Common side effects can include:

  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Feeling sleepy.

The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?


  • Don’t do anything for 24 hours that requires attention to detail. This medicine makes your mind foggy. It takes time for the effects to wear off completely.
  • Don’t drive a car until you are sure the effects from the medicine are gone.


  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.


  • You can eat your normal diet, unless your doctor gives you other instructions. If your stomach is upset, try clear liquids and bland, low-fat foods like plain toast or rice.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
  • Don’t drink alcohol for 24 hours.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse pain.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Care instructions adapted under license by Neuromuscular Spine & Joint Center. This care instruction is for use with your licensed healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Kopp Medical LLC, DBA Neurmomuscular Spine & Joint Center disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.