Side Effects of Norspan

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In Australia, the drug Norspan (brand name for buprenorphine) is a narcotic analgesic commonly prescribed by doctors. Norspan is a transdermal patch that you apply to your skin for a gradual release of pain-relieving medication over several hours. Despite its effectiveness, Norspan is not for everyone as it presents several risks for side effects and complications.

Prescription
Prescription (Image: Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Getty Images)

Common Side Effects

About 66 percent of Norspan users report drowsiness or sedation, making these the most common side effects of the drug. Dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, constipation, headache, itching, a skin rash in the spot where you wear the patch, dizziness and confusion are also common, occurring in at least 10 percent of users. Between 1 and 10 percent of people who use Norspan experience loss of appetite, indigestion, swelling of the hands and feet, and unusual tastes.

Side effects
Side effects (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Other Side Effects

Norspan has the potential to cause a number of other troublesome or annoying, but not dangerous, side effects. Gastrointestinal side effects include difficulty swallowing and delayed digestion. Norspan sometimes causes hallucinations, ringing in the ears, blurred vision and vertigo. Other side effects of Norspan include decreased urination, impotence and lack of interest in sex.

Blurred vision
Blurred vision (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Drug Interactions

There are some medications that produce unwanted side effects when used in conjunction with Norspan. Because the patches often cause drowsiness, do not mix Norspan with other drugs that make you sleepy as this could impair your ability to remain alert and affect your breathing. Examples of drugs to avoid include narcotics, sleeping pills and sedatives, anti-epileptic drugs, and anti-anxiety medications.

Drug interactions
Drug interactions (Image: Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Risks

Norspan has the potential to cause serious medical complications. The most common of these risks is respiratory depression, a condition where your body is unable to get enough oxygen to function properly. The most severe cases of respiratory depression result in the cessation of breathing, which can lead to heart or brain damage and even death. Norspan sometimes causes cardiovascular side effects such as sudden fainting, rapid heartbeat, angina and increased blood pressure. Serious gastrointestinal side effects like diverticulitis and irritation of your gastrointestinal tract are also possible while taking Norspan.

Oxygen mask
Oxygen mask (Image: Jochen Sand/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Considerations

Do not operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery while taking Norspan. Avoid drinking alcohol, as it exacerbates the drug's side effects. Because there is not yet sufficient evidence that side effects of Norspan do not harm or endanger the fetus, doctors typically do not prescribe the drug for pregnant women. Additionally, Norspan is not used in children under 18 years of age, due to its side effects.

Avoid alcohol
Avoid alcohol (Image: puchkovo48/iStock/Getty Images)

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