Home / Health / Another Downside to Opioid Use: Pneumonia?

Another Downside to Opioid Use: Pneumonia?

By Serena Gordon

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 12, 2018 (HealthDay News) — The dangerous information on opioids simply assists in keeping coming.

Not handiest are those painkillers implicated in hundreds of thousands of instances of dependancy and tens of 1000’s of overdose deaths within the United States, new analysis now means that taking opioids can building up your possibility of having a pneumococcal an infection by means of about 60 %.

“The risk was increased even more for long-acting formulations, high-potency opioids and high doses of opioids,” mentioned the learn about’s lead writer, Andrew Wiese. He’s  a post-doctoral analysis fellow within the well being coverage division at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.

Pneumococcal infections are sicknesses due to Streptococcus pneumoniae micro organism. They come with ear infections, sinus infections, bacteremia (a bloodstream an infection) and meningitis (an infection of the liner of the mind), in accordance to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The demise fee is as prime as 7 % for pneumococcal pneumonia, 20 % for bacteremia and 22 % for meningitis, the researchers mentioned.

The present learn about accumulated information from the Tennessee Medicaid database. That approach the learn about incorporated information handiest from other folks taking legally to be had opioids.

The database incorporated greater than 1,200 other folks elderly five years and older who had a pneumococcal an infection. The researchers in comparison those other folks to greater than 24,000 individuals who had been matched by means of age, analysis date and county of place of abode.

The learn about cannot end up a cause-and-effect courting. However, Wiese mentioned the findings — blended with the ones from different research and animal analysis — recommend that there is a causal hyperlink. The present analysis is sufficient to recommend warning in prescribing opioids, particularly for the ones at prime possibility for an infection, similar to older other folks, he mentioned.

Dr. Sascha Dublin described the learn about findings as “very important information for physicians.”  She’s an affiliate clinical investigator on the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. She additionally co-wrote an article printed in conjunction with the learn about.

“People think of the risks of overdose or addiction with opioids, but I don’t think infection risk is on most physicians’ radar,” Dublin mentioned.


Still, a large number of questions stay, she famous.  Why might opioids building up the danger of an infection? And, is all of it opioids or only a few formulations? Some analysis has prompt that positive opioids, similar to tramadol, might in fact stimulate the immune device.

Wiese mentioned that opioids are recognized to trigger respiration despair, which is a slowing of respiring. The medication even have been related to a better possibility for aspiration — which is when a overseas substance, similar to meals, enters the lungs right through respiring.

While those components might play a task, Wiese mentioned the danger for an infection was once identical in other folks with pneumonia and with non-pneumonia infections.

In addition, animal research have proven that opioids can inhibit and disrupt the immune device, Wiese identified.

Dublin mentioned, “We have all of this wonderful evidence from animal models pointing to the immune system as the cause, but we have to see if it holds true in people.”  

So, does this added possibility imply that folks must forgo pain-relieving medicine to keep away from the risk of infections?

No, Dublin mentioned.

“There’s a fair bit of confusion or myth that opioids are the gold standard for pain. Sometimes physicians feel they need to give an opioid, but in many cases, it’s appropriate to try safer things first,” she mentioned.

“The safest choice for most people is acetaminophen [Tylenol],” Dublin mentioned. “If that doesn’t work, then ibuprofen. We also need to make sure patients have access to other possibilities, like physical therapy, massage or acupuncture for pain.”

Wiese famous that “the primary audience for our study is providers who prescribe opioids.”

So, he added, “What we’re asking is that anytime a provider is prescribing an opioid, that they consider infection risk, especially for someone who might already have an infection or be at risk of an infection.”

The learn about was once printed within the Feb. 13 on-line version of Annals of Internal Medicine.


WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCES: Andrew Wiese, Ph.D., post-doctoral analysis fellow, division of well being coverage, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tenn.; Sascha Dublin, M.D., Ph.D., affiliate clinical investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, Seattle; Feb. 13, 2018,Annals of Internal Medicine,  on-line

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