Pain Medicine Side Effects in Children: Care Instructions

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When you take your child for medical care, your child may get strong medicine called an opioid to help with pain. Some examples are fentanyl and morphine. The medicine may be given in a vein (by I.V.). Or it may be given as an injection (shot). These medicines help relieve your child's pain. But they also have side effects.

It's important that you know how this strong pain medicine affects your child. Common side effects can include:

  • Constipation.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Feeling sleepy.

The doctor has checked your child carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?


  • Don't let your child do anything for 24 hours that requires attention to detail. Strong pain medicines like opioids can make your child's mind foggy. It takes time for the effects to wear off.
  • Don't let your child do anything for 24 hours that needs balance. Examples of this include bike riding and skateboarding.


  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.


  • Feed your child a normal diet, unless your doctor gives you other instructions. If your child's stomach is upset, try clear liquids and bland, low-fat foods like plain toast or rice.
  • If your child feels constipated while taking strong pain medicines, talk to your child's doctor about a laxative.
  • Have your child drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing.
  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse pain.
  • Your child is sleepy and confused.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.