Oxycodone is a narcotic pain medication sold under the brand name OxyContin, according to Drugs.com. Doctors prescribe oxycodone to relieve persistent, moderate-to-severe pain. Oxycodone is an opiate analgesic that affects the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain, adds MedlinePlus. Doctors prescribe it when an as-needed pain medication is not effective for treating individuals who need uninterrupted pain relief over sustained periods of time.
Doctors monitor patients using oxycodone closely to ensure that they do not experience life-threatening breathing problems, especially in the first 72 hours of use, explains MedlinePlus. The elderly and the malnourished have an especially high risk for severe breathing problems. Certain medications, including antibiotics, antidepressants, antifungals, muscle relaxants and narcotic pain medications, increase the risk for breathing difficulties. Combining oxycodone with alcohol or other medications that contain alcohol increases the risk for serious side effects.
Common side effects of oxycodone include fatigue, headache, sleepiness, abdominal pain and nausea, reports Drugs.com. An individual may experience mild itching and dry mouth. Grapefruit products can negatively interact with the drug. Signs of an allergic reaction that require immediate medical attention include swelling of the face and throat, trouble breathing and hives.
An oxycodone overdose can be fatal, especially to a child or someone using it without a prescription, cautions Drugs.com. Symptoms include irregular heartbeat, chest pain, loss of consciousness, constricted pupils and extreme drowsiness. Pregnant women who use oxycodone can deliver a baby that experiences life-threatening withdrawal symptoms requiring medical treatment for weeks.