Tramadol is used to treat moderate to severe pain in those that will require around-the-clock relief. This medication is an opiate agonist which will alter the way your body senses pain. Side effects to this medication are somewhat common, especially when the proper dose is not being administered. Working closely with a doctor will help you avoid a negative reaction or life threatening condition while on Tramadol.
Indications and Usage
Tramadol is sold under the brand names Ryzolt, Ultram, Ultram ER, Conzip and in the combination formula Ultracet which also contains acetaminophen. These tablets contain an extended relief formula that can be taken every 4-6 hours. Tramadol can be taken with or without food, but you should be consistent in which method you decide to use to ensure that it is always processed by your body at the same rate. You should not chew, crush, split or snort your tablets as it may cause your body to absorb the medication too quickly.
Tramadol is intended to be used for an extended period of time, but it is important to continue to monitor your condition to ensure that it is having the proper effect and not causing any adverse reactions. Talk with your doctor about when you will need to return for check-ups and when you will be able to increase your dosage. Doses should not be increased more than every three days to ensure that your body does not overreact to the medication. If you miss a dose while you are taking Tramadol, take it as soon as you remember unless it is close to your next dosing period. Do not double up doses to make up for those you have missed.
Doctors typically start patients out on lower doses of Tramadol and increase medication as necessary. You should not increase your dose without the recommendation from your doctor as this can lead to an overdose or dependency on the drug. Adults ages 17 and older are usually started at 25 mg per day in divided doses. This may be increased to 100 mg per day over time. Those with severe chronic pain may need to increase their doses to 200 mg per day, though this rarely necessary. The minimum effective dose of Tramadol is 25 mg per day, and doses should not exceed 400 mg per day.
Only 7 percent of your dose will be removed with hemodialysis, so those suffering from kidney disease will not be able to take a regular dose of Tramadol. Instead you will need to limit your dosing to 50 mg every 12 hours. Watch your condition closely to help avoid an overdose reaction should your body fail to clear the drug at the proper rate.
Those over the age of 65 should be cautious when they begin taking Tramadol as they are at more of a risk for developing decreased renal, cardiac or hepatic function. You may need to wait longer between dosage increases to ensure that your body can handle the medication. Those over 75 should not take more than 300 mg per day of Tramadol.
Tramadol Side Effects
The most common side effects patients have reported while using Tramadol are dizziness or vertigo occurring in up to 26 percent of patients, nausea in 24 percent, constipation in 24 percent, headache in 18 percent and somnolence in 16 percent. In most patients these side effects calmed after a week or so of using the medication, but some continued to report side effects up to 90 days after beginning their prescription. Some patients found that taking their prescription with food helped eliminate these side effects. If you are not finding relief or you are having trouble functioning due to the severity of your side effects, contact your doctor for advice.
Less common side effects, occurring in 8 percent or less of patients include pruritus, CNS stimulation, asthenia, sweating, dry mouth, diarrhea, and dyspepsia. These side effects tend to remain throughout the course of your prescription and could be a sign of a negative reaction to the drug. Contact your doctor about whether or not you should continue taking Tramadol if these symptoms occur. If at any point you are concerned that your side effects may be part of a life threatening situation, contact emergency medical services for advice.
Pregnant women should not take Tramadol. There is a significantly larger risk of developing side effects to the medication in these groups. Pregnant women have reported decreased fetal weights, increased supernumerary ribs and skeletal ossification when using Tramadol. In some cases Tramadol may be used to assist in labor pain, but this should only be done if the risk of newborn dependency is lower than the possible benefits. Children under 16 should not use Tramadol due to the increased risk of a negative reaction. Due to this risk, Tramadol should be avoided while breastfeeding as the drug can be transferred to your child.
Nearly 30 percent of seniors over 75 using Tramadol reported gastrointestinal distress. Seniors over 65 are also at least 10 percent more likely to develop constipation while using Tramadol. These side effects were serious enough to limit the patient's use of the drug. If you fall into this age group and have begun to develop these side effects, contact your doctor for assistance right away.
In the case of an overdose, the patient may suffer seizures, coma, unconsciousness, extreme drowsiness, difficulty breathing, decreased pupil size or heart attack. These conditions can be fatal so it is vital that you contact emergency medical services as soon as you begin to notice these symptoms. Always take Tramadol as directed and do not alter your prescription without the knowledge and consent of your doctor to avoid developing an overdose condition.
Tramadol is opiate-based, which increases the likelihood that you can develop dependency on the medications. This can lead to shakiness, nervousness, sweating, nausea, dry mouth or flu-like symptoms. If you have a history of medical dependence, inform your doctor before starting a Tramadol regimen to help avoid a negative reaction. When you want to stop taking Tramadol, talk with your doctor about how to properly decrease your dosage so you do not begin to suffer from withdrawal symptoms.
You should always inform your doctor about any drugs you are taking before starting a Tramadol prescription. Some medications including antidepressants, MAO inhibitors, cold or allergy medications, muscle relaxers or seizure medications may have an adverse reaction that may inhibit the drug's ability to treat your pain effectively. Other drugs including lithium, carbamazepine, ADHD medications, antifungal drugs, cancer medications, heart rhythm or blood pressure medication, HIV/AIDS inhibitors, certain antibiotics or migraine medications may cause a negative reaction that could increase the risk of side effects including heart attacks.
In some cases, grapefruit has been known to interact poorly with Tramadol. Tell your doctor if you regularly consume large quantities of grapefruit or if you take a supplement that may contain grapefruit extract so you can alter your dosage accordingly.