Opioid users have a significantly increased risk of infections severe enough to require treatment at the hospital, such as pneumonia and meningitis, as compared to people who don’t use opioids.
The Vanderbilt University Medical Center study, released February 11 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that people who use opioids have a 1.62 times higher risk of invasive pneumococcal diseases.
Invasive pneumococcal diseases are serious infections caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, with mortality ranging from 5 to 20 percent. These invasive diseases include a range of illnesses such as meningitis, bacteremia and invasive pneumonia.
“The association between opioid use and the risk of invasive pneumococcal diseases was strongest for opioids used at high doses, those classified as high potency and long-acting, which would be the extended release or controlled release formulations,” said lead author Dr. Andrew Wiese, postdoctoral research fellow in the department of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.