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  • Percocet Side Effects | Short-Term & Long-Term Health Effects

    small round white pill Percocet side effects

    Percocet is an opioid that is made of oxycodone and acetaminophen. It is prescribed as a painkiller and can treat various types of severe pain, chronic pain, and coughs.

    Percocet is a powerful prescription opioid. It can cause a number of side effects, up to and including dependence and drug addiction.

    Intended Effects Of Percocet

    Percocet is an opioid analgesic, prescribed for pain relief. Its two main ingredients, oxycodone, and acetaminophen reduce pain in different ways.

    Oxycodone binds to opioid receptors in the central nervous system to cause sedation, numbness, and euphoria. Acetaminophen is thought to affect nitric oxide pathways to reduce sensitivity to pain, though its exact workings in the body are still unknown.

    Percocet may cause other side effects. 

    Common Short-Term Side Effects

    Common side effects of Percocet include:

    • constipation
    • dry mouth
    • drowsiness/sleepiness/tiredness
    • stomach pain
    • hypotension (low blood pressure)

    Most of these side effects are caused by oxycodone. Acetaminophen is less likely to cause mild side effects in the short-term. However, side effects may increase with high doses. 

    Serious Short-Term Side Effects

    Percocet can make pre-existing health conditions much worse. It can worsen head injuries, cause severe hypotension in people with blood pressure problems, and increase chances of liver failure in patients with liver disease.

    If you have one of these pre-existing conditions, talk to your doctor before you take Percocet. Continued Percocet use can cause additional, long-term health effects.

    Potential Long-Term Side Effects

    Oxycodone and acetaminophen work differently on the body. They also have different effects when taken over long periods of time. Long-term Percocet use can have more serious side effects than short-term use.

    Effects Caused By Oxycodone

    Percocet is potentially a habit-forming prescription drug because it contains oxycodone. Prolonged use can lead to physical dependence, tolerance, and eventual withdrawal symptoms.

    Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms include loss of appetite, increased heart rate, and drug cravings. Recovery from withdrawal can take months or even years, and may require professional help.

    Effects Caused By Acetaminophen

    Unlike oxycodone, acetaminophen is not habit-forming. However, it’s not a completely safe drug, especially when taken in high doses over time.

    Long-term acetaminophen use is riskier than short-term use.

    Acetaminophen is metabolized (broken down) through the liver. Long-term use can cause liver damage, which can rapidly lead to acute liver failure.

    Signs of acute liver failure include jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), bad breath, pain in the upper right abdomen, and nausea. Some of these signs overlap with other Percocet side effects, which is why it’s important to seek help if you see any of these.

    Other Health Effects

    Some health effects can occur at any time, whether the drug is being used in the short- or long-term.

    Allergic Reactions

    Allergic reactions to Percocet can occur at any time. Even a person who is taking the drug for the first time may experience a reaction to one or both of its ingredients.

    Oxycodone Allergy

    Allergies to oxycodone and other opioids are not well-defined. Symptoms and effects may vary from person to person, but reporting any strange symptoms from taking oxycodone is still important for your safety. 

    If you have reported reactions from taking opioid medications in the past, you may want to reconsider taking Percocet.

    Acetaminophen Allergy

    Acetaminophen allergies are better understood, and potentially more dangerous. Though acetaminophen is a commonly taken pain reliever available in some over-the-counter forms, an allergic reaction to acetaminophen could be life-threatening. 

    Rashes, reddened skin, and blisters are telltale signs.

    Allergic reactions to pain medications require immediate medical attention. Get help right away if you see these signs in yourself or a loved one.


    Not using Percocet as directed is a form of drug abuse, and may increase your risk of overdose. Always take Percocet as directed. Opioid overdose is a serious problem in the United States. 

    Mixing Percocet with other substances, such as alcohol or other opioids, can increase the chances of a toxic drug interaction.

    Oxycodone overdose often results in respiratory depression, which causes shallow breathing, slow breathing, and general breathing problems. It can also cause clammy skin, a comatose state, and potentially be fatal.

    Acetaminophen overdose mainly affects the liver, and can cause swift liver failure with little to no signs. If you think you’ve taken too much acetaminophen, a drug test will tell you if you need immediate medical help.

    Medical Detox For Opioid Addiction

    Percocet can cause a number of health effects. Many of these effects can worsen if substance abuse continues.

    Percocet’s addictive qualities can make it difficult to be clean of the drug. A person may continue taking it to avoid withdrawal symptoms, which puts their health at further risk. Medical drug detox may be necessary to manage withdrawal symptoms in a safe environment.

    Contact us to learn more about other potential treatment options.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Mayo Clinic - Acute liver failure - Symptoms and causes
    National Institutes of Health - Acetaminophen | C8H9NO2 - Pubchem
    National Institutes of Health - Oxycodone | C18H21NO4 - PubChem
    U.S. Food and Drug Administration - Oxycodone and Acetaminophen Tablets, USP - FDA
    U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Oxycodone

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on March 27, 2022
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