Side effects of oxycodone (2024)

Like all medicines, oxycodone can cause side effects in some people, but many people have no side effects or only minor ones.

The higher the dose of oxycodone the more chance that you will get side effects.

Do not take any other medicines to treat the side effects of oxycodone without speaking to a pharmacist or doctor first.

Common side effects

These common side effects of oxycodone happen in more than 1 in 100 people. There are things you can do to help cope with them:


Try to include more high-fibre foods in your diet such as fruits, vegetables and cereals. Try to drink several glasses of water each day. If you can, it may also help to do some gentle exercise.

Ask your doctor about medicine to help prevent or treat constipation caused by oxycodone.

Feeling or being sick (nausea or vomiting)

Stick to simple meals and do not eat rich or spicy food. It might help to swallow your oxycodone (without chewing if it's a tablet) just before or after a meal or snack. This may help feelings of sickness.

If you're being sick, try small frequent sips of water to avoid dehydration. Signs of dehydration include peeing less than usual or having dark strong-smelling pee.

If you take contraceptive pills and you're being sick your contraception may not protect you from pregnancy. Check the pill packet for advice.

This side effect should usually wear off after a few days. Talk to a doctor about taking anti-sickness medicine if it carries on for longer.

Stomach discomfort

Try to rest and relax. It can help to eat and drink slowly and have smaller and more frequent meals. Putting a heat pad or covered hot water bottle on your stomach may also help.

If you are in a lot of pain, speak to your pharmacist or doctor.

Feeling sleepy or tired

These side effects should wear off within a week or two as your body gets used to oxycodone. Talk to a doctor if they carry on for longer.

Feeling dizzy and a sensation of spinning (vertigo)

Lie down until the dizziness passes, then get up slowly. Move slowly and carefully. Do not drive, cycle or use tools or machinery if you're feeling dizzy.


Talk to a doctor if you feel confused. Your dose may need to be adjusted.


Make sure you rest and drink plenty of fluids. It may be best not to drink alcohol while taking oxycodone as this can make headaches worse. It's safe to take an everyday painkiller such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Talk to a doctor if headaches last longer than a week or are severe.

Itchiness or rash

It may help to take an antihistamine which you can buy from a pharmacy. Check with the pharmacist to see what type is suitable for you.

If symptoms do not go away or they get worse, talk to a doctor as you may need to try a different painkiller.

Speak to a doctor or pharmacist if this advice on how to cope does not help and a side effect is still bothering you or lasts more than a few days.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects happen in less than 1 in 100 people.

Call a doctor or call 111 now if you:

  • have muscle stiffness
  • feel dizzy, tired and have low energy – this could be a sign of low blood pressure (hypotension)

Immediate action required: Call 999 if:

  • you have a seizure or fit
  • you have difficulty breathing or short shallow breathing

Serious allergic reaction

In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to oxycodone.

Immediate action required: Call 999 now if:

  • your lips, mouth, throat or tongue suddenly become swollen
  • you're breathing very fast or struggling to breathe (you may become very wheezy or feel like you're choking or gasping for air)
  • your throat feels tight or you're struggling to swallow
  • your skin, tongue or lips turn blue, grey or pale (if you have black or brown skin, this may be easier to see on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet)
  • you suddenly become very confused, drowsy or dizzy
  • someone faints and cannot be woken up
  • a child is limp, floppy or not responding like they normally do (their head may fall to the side, backwards or forwards, or they may find it difficult to lift their head or focus on your face)

You or the person who's unwell may also have a rash that's swollen, raised, itchy, blistered or peeling.

These can be signs of a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.

Long-term side effects

Some people with conditions that need long-term pain relief may need to take oxycodone for a long time.

If you need to take it for a long time your body can become used to it (known as tolerance). That means you need higher doses to control your pain over time.

Some people can become more sensitive to pain (hyperalgesia). If this happens, your doctor will reduce your dose gradually to help these symptoms.

It's possible to become addicted to oxycodone. For this reason, your dose will be reviewed to make sure you're only having the amount you need to control your pain.

Your treatment plan may include details of how and when you'll stop oxycodone.

If you're having treatment for cancer pain or other severe pain, your pain control will be carefully monitored. Speak to your doctor if you're worried about tolerance, hyperalgesia or becoming addicted.

Other side effects

These are not all the side effects of oxycodone. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.


You can report any suspected side effect using the Yellow Card safety scheme.

Visit Yellow Card for further information.

Side effects of oxycodone (2024)
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