Patient Information Resources

Centre for Orthopaedics
Suite 10-33/34/35 Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road
Singapore, 329563, Singapore
Ph: (65) 6684 5828
Fax: (65) 6684 5829

Child Orthopedics
Pain Management
Spine - Cervical
Spine - General
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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I've been taking a mild narcotic drug for pain control for the last five years. It's expected I'll be on something like this for years (possibly for the rest of my life). As I get older, I notice more and more trouble with my memory. Everyone else around me is complaining about this, too so I'm not thinking it's really a side effect of the drug, but maybe it is. What do you think?

Whenever experiencing new symptoms that you suspect might be drug-related, it's always a good idea to check with your pharmacist and/or the prescribing physician. Many people taking long-term opioids (narcotics) for non-cancer problems are also taking other medications. Some of those drugs have the ability to alter cognitive (mental) function. If you are taking more than one medication, there can be drug interactions that can lead to adverse side effects. Memory loss is one of those possible side effects. Memory loss occurs when there is a disruption of the nervous system (brain). Memory loss can also be the result of many different factors (e.g., age, stress, presence of other problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes). And as is often the case, people who suffer from chronic pain become depressed. Altered mood or depression is also linked with changes in cognitive function (especially memory or the speed of mental). Sorting out which factor has the most power over mental abilities can be difficult. Make time to see your physician and have this symptom evaluated. If it is drug-induced, you may benefit from a change in dosage of your current medication or even a switch to a different drug.


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