Thursday October 2nd 2014

Can taking methadone cause excessive sweating?

Does Methadone Cause Sweating?

Yes. All opioids can cause flushing and hot sweats, but methadone is probably worse than the others. This is because when it’s used to treat opioid addiction, we want the patient to go up to a dose that blocks the opioid receptors, and the hot sweats from methadone seems to be at least partially dose-related.  Why does this happen? We don’t exactly know, but it has to do with the effects of opioids on the thermo-regulatory centers in the brain.

Excess sweating can also be caused by opioid withdrawal, so if there are other withdrawal signs or symptoms (body aches, runny nose, nausea, stomach cramps), the sweating may improve with a dose increase.  About half of all patients on methadone report unpleasant sweating, but some patients report dramatic, soaking sweats. The sweating for these patients is more than an inconvenience. These are bad enough to interfere with life.

Medications for sweating caused by methadone

There are a few prescription medications which can help this severe sweating.

  1. Clonidine, a blood pressure medication, blocks sweats to some degree in many patients.
  2. Anticholenergic medicines, so named because these drugs block the effect of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the involuntary nervous system, block sweating. Anticholinergics tend to dry all secretions, causing such common side effects as dry mouth and dry eyes. These medications can cause more serious side effects, so they must be prescribed by a doctor familiar with the patient’s medical history.   All of these medications have been used for excessive sweating with various degrees of success, in some patients.  Some examples of anticholinergics include:
    • oxybutynin (also used for urinary leakage)
    • bipereden (used in some Parkinson patients)
    • scopolamine (also used for sea sickness)
    • dicyclomine (used for irritable bowel syndrome)
  3. For unusually bad situations, Botox can be injected under the skin of the most affected areas, like armpits, palms and soles. Obviously, this is somewhat of a last-resort measure.

Other ways to treat methadone induced sweat

Many of the common sense things do help somewhat, like wearing loose clothing, keeping your house cool, and losing weight. Regular exercise helps some people. Talcum powder, sprinkled on the areas that sweat, can help absorb some of the moisture. Antiperspirants can be used in the underarm area, but also in any area that routinely becomes sweaty. The antiperspirant can be applied at bedtime so sweating won’t interrupt sleep. There are prescription antiperspirants, like Drysol or Xerac, but these sometimes can be irritating to the skin. Avoid spicy foods, which can also cause sweating.

Make sure the sweating isn’t coming from any other source, like an overactive thyroid, and check your body temperature a few times, to make sure you don’t have a fever, indicating the sweating could be from a smoldering infection. A trip to the doctor should include some basic blood tests to rule out medical causes other than the dose of methadone.

Photo credit: Sarah Korf

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8 Responses to “Can taking methadone cause excessive sweating?
johnattan
9:40 am September 20th, 2011

Hi, i use 12mg/methadon for 11 years now, i sweat alot from first day, my methadon friends do not sweat at all, i guess it depend on the body.
Before methadon, no sweat at all, in fact i was chilli all the time.
Now, sweat appear on head and face, it drippin from the head, even if i walk slowly, or do something in my condo , or bo with the bus, metro, etc.
I used clonidine+methadon( clonidine for sweat), not good at all.
Tommorow i will try to buy RUBINUL or BIPERIDIN, maybe these one will help me.
If you are adicted to heroin, and want to get of it, use methadon, but beware of big sweating all day long, even in winter.

Gledwood
1:12 pm June 9th, 2012

Methadone does make you sweat far too much, and far more than heroin. And heroin was bad enough for making me sweat. With all those side-effects it begs the question: why aren’t XR morphine tablets used far more widely. Somebody gave me a bottle of morphine some years ago, I took about 250mg orally, slept and woke feeling a hell of a lot better than I ever have on methadone. Not “high”, just completely OK. With all the alternatives available like Jurnista, which is an XR hydromorphone etc etc I wonder why they insist on continuing to give methadone, unless it’s purely on grounds of cost…

9:04 am June 13th, 2012

Hi Gledwood. Thanks for your question. Although you may not personally feel the euphoric effect of morphine, the addiction liability of morphine has led to the standard for methadone dosing in the field of opiate addiction treatment.

speedracer
7:54 pm July 23rd, 2012

Wow, my face is dripping like a faucet. it stops periodically with initial dose increase but continues day after, its not right. I don’t understand, I was on methadone before without sweating

6:46 pm July 24th, 2012

Hi speedracer. What does your prescribing doctor say about this side effect to taking methadone? And have you considered any of the medications listed above to treat it?

Anna
7:41 pm December 8th, 2012

My friend is prescribed Oxycontin for a bulging disk in his back. He has just started Methadone treatment to stop the cravings for more then his prescribed dose. Can he stay on both together is this ok?

8:59 pm December 8th, 2012

Hi Anna. Thanks for your question. It is relatively common for methadone maintenance patients to continue using other drugs such as OxyContin after admission to treatment. This reflects the long history of use, the complexity of each person’s’ situation and reasons for using drugs, and the biological basis of addiction. Ideally, methadone is used to replace stronger opiates. But in some cases, it seems possible that methadone be used to control cravings while on medication for valid pain issues. To verify this, I’d suggest that you call a local methadone clinic and ask directly for more information.

kassy
12:46 am April 9th, 2013

I sweat pretty bad now that im on methadone, but mostly when im out and about walking or at work. I sometimes also take adderall to help do homework, etc. and i have noticed days i take this as well my sweating is 20 times worse! ive been trying to do some research on this but its hard to find anything, just wondering if anyone else has ran into this when using the two drugs together?

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About Dr. Jana Burson, MD

Jana Burson M.D. is board-certified in Internal medicine, and certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine. After practicing primary care for many years, she became interested in the treatment of addiction. For the last six years, her practice has focused exclusively on Addiction Medicine. She has written a book about prescription pain pill addiction: "Pain Pill Addiction: Prescription for Hope." Also see Dr. Burson's blog here.