Percocet Side Effects and Dangers

woman taking percocet without side effects

Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen) is a brand name combination drug that is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone is an opiate pharmaceutical that changes the brain’s perception of pain, while acetaminophen works to inhibit pain-related chemicals in the brain. Like any other prescription medication, there is a lengthy list of potential side effects of Percocet. In high doses, this pain reliever can reduce one’s heart rate, lead to liver problems, and make it more difficult for people to experience pain relief.

Long-term use or misuse of Percocet can easily lead to dependence and drug addiction. When someone is abusing the drug or addicted to it, they are more likely to take the medication in a hazardous manner that puts them at a high risk of experiencing severe side effects or dangers associated with the medication. Since opiate medication abuse is a widespread problem in the nation, it is important to be aware of the potential side effects and dangers associated with taking Percocet.

Common Side Effects of Percocet

Percocet is available in several different strengths. The oxycodone/acetaminophen tablets come in strengths of 2.5/325mg, 5/325mg, 7.5/325mg, 10/325mg, and 10/650mg. In general, a person’s daily dose should not exceed 4 grams of acetaminophen or 60mg of oxycodone. Even when a person takes Percocet in compliance with their doctor’s orders, they may still experience a range of potential side effects. Some common and less severe side effects of taking Percocet include:[1]

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sleepiness
  • Upset stomach
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Itching
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Inability to feel pain

While these side effects are fairly minor and may subside after some time, others experience more serious side effects when taking Percocet, such as:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Allergic reaction
  • Skin rash
  • Apnea
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Shallow breathing
  • Circulatory depression
  • Low blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Jaundice
  • Shock
  • Death

If you take Percocet and experience an allergic reaction or any of the more serious side effects, you should stop taking the medication and contact your prescribing physician. However, if you experience chest pain, seizures, or a severe rash, you should call 911 right away.

Allergic Reactions to Percocet

Acetaminophen is the active ingredient found in Tylenol, and, many people are actually allergic to Tylenol. If you have ever experienced an allergic reaction after taking an acetaminophen-containing product, you probably shouldn’t take prescription drugs that contain it, like Percocet. The most common sign of an allergic reaction to Percocet is skin redness or a skin rash. In severe cases, skin rashes from Percocet may lead to blisters or peeling.

If you suspect you are allergic to Percocet because you have a skin rash or trouble breathing, you should call your doctor immediately and stop taking the medication. There are alternative pain medications you can take that don’t contain acetaminophen.

Percocet Overdose

If a person takes more than the recommended dose in a short period of time or mixes Percocet with other depressant substances, he or she may become at risk for an opiate overdose. Symptoms of a Percocet overdose include:

  • Blue lips and/or skin
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Extreme fatigue
  • A feeling of general discomfort or sickness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak pulse
  • Shallow breathing
  • Coma

Even though many minor Percocet side effects fade away in time or are completely normal, people who are experiencing symptoms of an overdose require immediate medical attention. If you suspect someone is overdosing on opiates, it is vital that you call 911 immediately.

Additional Dangers and Side Effects of Percocet Use

Doctors always advise that patients swallow Percocet whole rather than breaking or chewing the tablets. Breaking or chewing the tablets may cause the oxycodone to be released too quickly, therefore, resulting in high concentrations in the blood that can lead to overdose or death. As a result, people should always take the medication as prescribed by their doctor.

Percocet may also interact with other narcotic pain medications or depressants, such as:

  • Sedatives
  • Tranquilizers
  • Sleeping pills
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Some urinary medications

In addition, the safety of the drug has not been proven in children. Similarly, pregnant and breastfeeding women must use caution when taking Percocet or avoid the medication altogether. After all, exposure to opiates in the womb can lead to a baby being born with opioid dependence, and low concentrations of Percocet can be detected in breast milk.

Furthermore, Percocet is known to produce the following side effects in extremely rare cases:[2]

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Hoarse voice
  • Lower back or side pain
  • Difficult urination
  • Breathing problems
  • Sore throat
  • Sores or ulcers in the mouth
  • Increased bleeding or bruising

Long Term Effects of Percocet Abuse

Continued Percocet abuse is extremely dangerous. People who abuse prescription opioids will develop a physical dependence on them, so they will experience flu-like withdrawal symptoms when stopping the use of the medication. Furthermore, the more a person abuses Percocet, the higher dose they will have to take to achieve the desired effects. As a result, the risk of overdose and poisoning increases substantially.

Other long term side effects and health risks associated with Percocet abuse include:

  • Liver damage
  • Severe constipation
  • Kidney failure
  • Osteoporosis
  • Immune suppression

Moreover, Percocet abuse causes physiological changes in the brain that cause compulsive and addictive behaviors, such as mood swings, depression, anxiety, drug cravings, and more. The longer a person abuses the drug, the more likely they are to develop an opiate addiction and suffer the severe consequences of substance abuse.

Get Help for Percocet Addiction Today

When abused, this opioid pain reliever produces a sense of euphoria and well-being because the drug directly targets areas in the brain responsible for reward and pleasure. Despite the fact that many people view Percocet as safer than other opioids, it works in the body the same way as heroin and is a highly addictive substance. As a result, people who abuse the drug will likely become dependent on the substance and, ultimately, addicted to it.

Although legitimate Percocet use may result in side effects, the risk of negative side effects and associated health consequences increases exponentially when the drug is abused. That being said, stopping Percocet use after a person is addicted isn’t easy – and that’s where we come in.

At PAX Memphis Recovery Center, we are dedicated to providing men and women with the individualized care they need to recover from addiction. Starting with detox and continuing after the completion of treatment, our mental health and addiction specialists are there for our patients every step of the way. If you or a loved one are addicted to Percocet, it’s time to make the phone call that will change your life. Call us today to get started.



Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.