Medical News Today has created a new medical channel, called All About Opioids and Opioid-Induced Constipation (OIC). Opioids are a class of drugs that are frequently prescribed for treating pain. They include such medications as morphine, codeine, oxycodone and methadone are opioids. They come under the following brand names: Kadian, Avinza, OxyContin, Percodan, Darvon, Demerol, Vicodin, Percocet, and Lomotil.

Although opioids are extremely effective pain relievers, they frequently cause an undesirable side effect – constipation. They affect the gastrointestinal tract in several ways:

  • Opioids make stools take longer to move through the gastric system
  • They raise non-propulsive contractions in the middle of the small intestine (jejunum) and reduce longitudinal propulsive peristalsis – motions crucial for the movement of food through the intestines – resulting in food that fails to travel through the digestive tract.
  • Opioids can partially paralyze the stomach (gastroparesis) so that food remains in the digestive system for longer.
  • Opioids reduce digestive secretions and lower the urge to defecate.