What is tramadol?
It is an analgesic, relieving moderate pain and reducing severe pain. In chemical terms, it works in the same way as one of the natural opiates, affecting the levels of the neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and serotonin. These are the chemicals that carry messages from one part of the body to another. By slightly changing the message, you grow less aware of the pain. But remember that tramadol does not work on its own. It does not cure the cause of the pain. That remains a problem to be solved by other means. A wound may heal naturally. Other injuries may only require rest. Surgery, drugs or other treatment may be needed to produce a recovery. Your doctor will give you the best pain management advice.
What should you discuss with your doctor?
In addition to dealing with the underlying cause of the pain, you should go through your medical history with your doctor. Younger and older people should use this drug with caution. In all patients, there is an increased risk of seizures depending on your history and whether you are taking other drugs. Obviously, a history of epilepsy or one of the other seizure disorders is a red flag, but you are more likely to have a seizure if you have a head injury, one of the metabolic disorders, or you are going through the withdrawal stages of alcohol or drug addiction. The threshold at which you can have a seizure is also lowered if you are taking one of the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, Tricyclic or Monoamine Oxidase inhibitor antidepressants.
Because it slows down the body, tramadol should be used with care if you have any history of asthma or breathlessness. It is also potentially dangerous to combine it with any other drug that also depresses your body’s functions, e.g. a tranquilizer, sedative, sleeping pill, etc. The same danger arises if you drink alcohol when taking tramadol. Finally, if you are planning a family, you are pregnant, or breast-feeding discuss the issues with your doctor.
What are the main side effects?
Until you build up a tolerance for this drug, it can make you drowsy so it is dangerous to drive or operate any equipment or machinery that could injure you or others. The longer term use of tramadol may also lead to physical or psychological dependence. This means you should not stop suddenly, but slowly lower the dosage to reduce the risk of withdrawal symptoms.
The more common side effects are:
- nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea;
The less common but more dangerous symptoms are:
- disorientation, mood swings, agitation and hallucinations;
- chest pain and irregular heartbeat;
- severe loss of co-ordination, dizziness and fainting.