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Can Suboxone cause fluid retention?

Fluid retention may occur while taking Suboxone. Swelling in the legs, feet, arms, and hands are listed as infrequent side effects of Suboxone.

A side effect that is infrequent means that 1/100 - 1/1000 people experience it. Furthermore, it can cause bloating of the hands and face.

Is the fluid retention caused by Suboxone dangerous?

If you have swelling as a result of taking Suboxone, it is unlikely to be dangerous. However, swelling, especially in the legs and feet, can be a sign of a serious medical condition.

Serious causes of leg and feet swelling include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Heart failure
  • Blood clot
  • Overweight
  • Leg infection
  • Older age
  • Venous insufficiency
  • Preeclampsia (in a pregnant woman)
  • Other medications such as antidepressants, blood pressure medications, hormone pills, steroids. 

If you develop leg swelling while taking Suboxone, it is important to be evaluated by your doctor as soon as possible to make sure that the swelling is not a sign of a medical problem.

What are some other common and important side effects of Suboxone?

Common side effects include:     

  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Generalized muscle aches and cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Fever
  • Blurred vision 
  • Dilated pupils
  • Tremors
  • Feelings of skipped heartbeats
  • Attentional problems
  • Tongue pain

Other important side effects to be aware of include:

  • Respiratory suppression
  • Overdose if taken in excess or with other sedating medications
  • Euphoria, misuse, addiction
  • Withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation
  • Precipitated opioid withdrawal (if taken with other opioids present in the system)

Claire Wilcox, MD

Claire Wilcox, MD, is a general and addiction psychiatrist in private practice and an associate professor of translational neuroscience at the Mind Research Network in New Mexico; and has completed an addictions fellowship, psychiatry residency, and internal medicine residency. Having done extensive research in the area, she is an expert in the neuroscience of substance use disorders. Although she is interested in several topics in medicine and psychiatry, with a particular focus on substance use disorders, obesity, eating disorders, and chronic pain, her primary career goal is to help promote recovery and wellbeing for people with a range of mental health challenges.

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