Tramadol is a synthetic pain reliever that is similar to morphine. It binds to the receptors in the brain that transmit pain signals to the body to cut down on the uncomfortable sensation that the patient will feel. Tramadol is not an anti-inflammatory so it cannot be used to assist in the cure of an injury. Prescriptions are available for mild to moderate pain which can be treated for an extended period. The tablets do include traces of corn starch, lactose and sodium starch glycolate which may need to be considered for those who have allergies to these substances.
Tramadol is available in 50 mg tablets for immediate release. Tablets containing 100, 200 or 300 mg of the drug are also available in the extended release forms. Extended release tablets are intended to treat chronic pain while the traditional version is typically restricted for moderate temporary pain management. Doses will often be started low, usually around 25 mg, and increased as necessary in 3 day increments. Do not increase your prescription without discussing it with your doctor first. Tramadol can be taken with or without food, but you should drink a glass of water when you swallow your pills. Unlike similar drugs, tramadol does not come with an increased risk of internal bleeding.
Common Side Effects of Tramadol
All tramadol side effects are relatively uncommon and mild, though there are some that are more common than others. The most often reported side effects include nausea, constipation and vomiting. These conditions usually subside over time and do not tend to impact the patient's ability to function. If your symptoms appear to be especially difficult to deal with then contact your doctor for advice on how to proceed. Most medications that are typically used to treat digestive distress can be used with tramadol, but check with your doctor before you start using any other medications.
Other common side effects include dizziness, headache or drowsiness. Like the side effects listed above, these effects are usually mild and become less aggressive throughout the length of your prescription. In many cases, resting for a short period will help alleviate these symptoms. If these side effects do not get better or are especially bothersome, contact your doctor about adjusting your prescription. Do not use any headache medications before checking the ingredients with your doctor. Some may impact the effectiveness of the tramadol prescription you are already taking.
Uncommon and Rare Side Effects of Tramadol
Other tramadol side effects that have been reported are very rare, but they can be serious if they go untreated. Less common side effects include dry mouth, itching, sweating, diarrhea, vertigo and rash. Many of these symptoms are signs of an allergic reaction to ingredients in the medication. If you notice any of these symptoms developing, contact your doctor to determine whether or not you should continue using tramadol. If any of your symptoms impact your ability to function, stop taking your prescription and contact your doctor to have an evaluation of your condition.
Side Effects in Children, Pregnant Women, Seniors and Others
Tramadol is not usually given to children due to the very high dosage size. Those with a smaller body size are at a higher risk for having an overdose reaction to the medication. The safety rating for using tramadol while pregnant or breastfeeding has not yet been determined. You should not use tramadol without discussing the potential risk with your doctor. There are no specific warnings for senior or conditions that seniors tend to have.
Those who are at risk for having seizures or suffer from a condition such as epilepsy should not use tramadol. The medication increases the risk of seizures and reacts poorly with many medications necessary to keep a seizure condition under control. Those who are at risk for serotonin syndrome should also avoid using tramadol as your risk is increased while on this medication.
It should be noted that drugs that interact with the nervous system such as tramadol add the risk of dependency. Those who have issues with depression or addiction issues should talk with their doctor about the risk of this condition developing before starting their prescription. If you have had issues with a morphine addition in the past, you should not take tramadol. This is especially important for those that will be starting a long-term prescription for pain management. If you feel as though your prescription is not working as effectively, or you notice signs of withdrawal when you miss a dose, talk with your doctor about starting a step down program.
Interactions with Other Medicines and Substances
Drugs containing carbamazepine interact with tramadol and impede its ability to work as effectively. On a similar note, products containing quinidine reduce the inactivation of tramadol. This can increase the concentration of the drug by 50-60 percent. Combining tramadol with oxidase or serotonin inhibitors including Parnate or Prozac can lead to serotonin syndrome or seizures which can be incredibly dangerous.
You should not pair tramadol with alcohol. Alcohol will increase the reactions of the central nervous system when combined with tramadol. This can lead to respiratory depression which could be life threatening. Other narcotics, tranquilizers or sedatives should be avoided during the length of your prescription for the same reason.