Opioid Medication and Sleep-disordered Breathing

Division of Sleep Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Medical Outpatient Center, 450 Broadway Street, Pavillon C, Redwood City, CA 94063-5074, USA.
The Medical clinics of North America (Impact Factor: 2.61). 05/2010; 94(3):435-46. DOI: 10.1016/j.mcna.2010.02.007
Source: PubMed


There has been a growing recognition of chronic pain that may be experienced by patients. There has been a movement toward treating these patients aggressively with pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic modalities. Opioids have been a significant component of the treatment of acute pain, with their increasing use in cases of chronic pain, albeit with some controversy. In addition to analgesia, opioids have many accompanying adverse effects, particularly with regard to stability of breathing during sleep. This article reviews the existing literature on the effects of opioids on sleep, particularly sleep-disordered breathing.

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    • "Another important risk factor that is increasing in prevalence is the co-morbidity of sleep-disordered breathing in the perioperative patient (Vasu et al., 2012). Unfortunately, the majority of patients with sleep-disordered breathing remain undiagnosed and opioids and other respiratory depressants can exacerbate this condition (Yue and Guilleminault, 2010; Zutler and Holty, 2011). Furthermore, opioids may have increased potency as analgesics in pediatric and adult patients with nocturnal hypoxemia due to sleep apnea (Brown et al., 2006; Doufas et al., 2013). "
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