Thursday, November 17, 2011

10 Things To Know About Tramadol

1 - Tramadol is prescribed to treat moderate to moderately severe pain.

Tramadol belongs to the class of drugs known as opiate agonists. Primarily, tramadol works by changing the way the body senses pain. Some people mistakenly believe that tramadol is an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug), but it is not.

2 - Tramadol is available in immediate release and extended release formulations.

Tramadol may be prescribed as an immediate release tablet (50 mg.) or as an extended release tablet (100, 200, or 300 mg.). The extended release tablets are usually reserved for patients with chronic pain who require continuous, long-term treatment. Your doctor will determine the appropriate dosage schedule for you.

3 - Tramadol extended release tablets must be taken whole, not split, chewed or crushed.

It is important to take tramadol properly and to follow prescribing instructions. If taken improperly or in a way that is not recommended, serious side effects and even death can result.

4 - Tramadol can be habit-forming for some people.

Do not take more tramadol than has been prescribed for you. Taking more tramadol or taking it more often can cause dependency on it. You should also not stop taking tramadol without first consulting your doctor. You may experience withdrawal symptoms if you stopped it suddenly. You doctor will likely decrease your dose of tramadol gradually.

5 - Drug interactions are possible with tramadol.

Be aware of the following possible drug interactions:
  • Carbamazepine reduces the effect of tramadol
  • Quinidine increases the concentration of tramadol by 50% to 60%
  • Combining tramadol with an MAO (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) inhibitor or SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can lead to seizures or other serious side effects.
Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you are taking.

6 - Tramadol, when combined with certain other substances, can increase central nervous system and respiratory depression.

In other words, breathing may be affected or even stop if tramadol is combined with alcohol, narcotic drugs, anesthetics, tranquilizers, or sedatives.

7 - The use of tramadol during pregnancy should be avoided.

Because the safety of tramadol use during pregnancy has not been established, the medication should not be used during pregnancy. The safe use of tramadol in nursing mothers has also not been established.

8 - Tramadol is usually well-tolerated. Any side effects are usually temporary.

Some of the common side effects associated with tramadol include:
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • drowsiness
  • vomiting
Less common side effects include: itching, sweating, diarrhea, rash, dry mouth, and vertigo. There have been patients who developed seizures after taking tramadol.

9 - A Cochrane Review of tramadol to treat osteoarthritis revealed some small benefit.

The Cochrane Review stated that when tramadol is taken for up to 3 months, there may be decreased pain, improvements in function and stiffness and overall well-being. However, tramadol can cause side effects that are significant enough to require that the patient must stop taking the medication. Risks outweigh benefits for many people who have tried tramadol.

10 - If an overdose of tramadol has occurred, call your local poison control center, or call 911 if it appears to be an emergency situation.

Symptoms of an overdose include decreased pupil size, difficulty breathing or staying awake, unconscious, coma, heart attack, or seizure. Call for help, even if you are unsure about what to do.

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Before Taking Tramadol

You should not take this medication if you are allergic to tramadol, if you have ever been addicted to drugs or alcohol, or if you have ever attempted suicide.
Do not take tramadol while you are intoxicated (drunk) or taking any of the following:
  • alcohol or street drugs;
  • narcotic pain medicine;
  • sedatives or tranquilizers (such as Valium);
  • medicine for depression or anxiety; or
  • medicine for mental illness (such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia).
Seizures have occurred in some people taking tramadol. Talk with your doctor about your seizure risk, which may be higher if you have:
  • a history of drug or alcohol addiction;
  • a history of epilepsy or other seizure disorder;
  • a history of head injury;
  • a metabolic disorder; or
  • if you are also taking an antidepressant, muscle relaxer, narcotic, antipsychotic, or medicine for nausea and vomiting.
To make sure you can safely take tramadol, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:
  • kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis);
  • cirrhosis or other liver disease;
  • a stomach disorder; or
  • a history of depression, mental illness, or thoughts of suicide.
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether tramadol will harm an unborn baby. Tramadol may cause serious or fatal side effects in a newborn if the mother uses this medication during pregnancy or labor. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication. Tramadol can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are taking tramadol. Do not give this medication to anyone younger than 16 years old without the advice of a doctor.


A Little Information

Tramadol is used to relieve moderate to moderately severe pain. Tramadol extended-release tablets are only used by people who are expected to need medication to relieve pain around-the-clock for a long time. Tramadol is in a class of medications called opiate agonists. It works by changing the way the body senses pain.
Tramadol comes as a tablet and an extended-release (long-acting) tablet to take by mouth. The regular tablet is usually taken with or without food every 4-6 hours as needed. The extended-release tablet should be taken once a day. Take the extended-release tablet at about the same time of day every day, and either always take it with food or always take it without food. Take tramadol exactly as directed. Do not take more medication as a single dose or take more doses per day than prescribed by your doctor. Taking more tramadol than prescribed by your doctor may cause serious side effects or death.
Your doctor may start you on a low dose of tramadol and gradually increase the amount of medication you take, not more often than every 3 days if you are taking the regular tablets or every 5 days if you are taking the extended-release tablets.
Swallow the extended-release tablets whole; do not split, chew, or crush them. Do not snort (inhale powder from crushed tablet) or inject the dissolved extended-release tablets. Taking this medication in a way that is not recommended may cause serious side effects or death.
Tramadol can be habit-forming. Do not take a larger dose, take it more often, or take it for a longer period of time than prescribed by your doctor. Call your doctor if you find that you want to take extra medication or if you notice any other unusual changes in your behavior or mood.
Do not stop taking tramadol without talking to your doctor. Your doctor will probably decrease your dose gradually. If you suddenly stop taking tramadol you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as nervousness; panic; sweating; difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep; runny nose, sneezing, or cough; numbness, pain, burning, or tingling in your hands or feet; hair standing on end; chills; nausea; uncontrollable shaking of a part of your body; diarrhea; or rarely, hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist).