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What Is Tramadol Used For?
Tramadol is a type of medication that doctors prescribe to help manage moderate to moderately severe pain. It’s often used for pain that you might experience after surgery or from a serious injury. Tramadol is also helpful in treating long-standing pain when weaker painkillers no longer work.
Importantly, tramadol belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid analgesics. This means it works by changing how your brain senses pain, similar to substances your body makes naturally called endorphins.
How to Use Tramadol
Before you start taking tramadol, it’s crucial to read the Medication Guide that your pharmacist gives you. Every time you get a refill, it’s a good idea to read it again, just in case anything has changed. If there’s anything you’re unsure about, you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
You should take tramadol orally, as directed by your doctor, usually every 4 to 6 hours as needed for pain relief. You can take tramadol with or without food, but if you have nausea, taking it with food might help. It’s essential to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.
The dosage is based on your medical condition and how you respond to treatment. To lower your risk of side effects, your doctor might start you on a low dose and then gradually increase it. Always take tramadol exactly as prescribed. Taking it more often or in higher doses than prescribed won’t improve your condition faster, and it increases the risk of serious side effects.
Continuing and Stopping Treatment
Even if you start to feel better, keep taking tramadol as prescribed. Stopping this medication suddenly can lead to withdrawal, especially if you’ve used it for a long time or in high doses. Your doctor may reduce your dose gradually to prevent withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms, like restlessness, mood changes, trouble sleeping, and diarrhea, can occur if tramadol is stopped abruptly.
Common Side Effects
When you take tramadol, you might experience dizziness, headache, drowsiness, nausea, constipation, or sweating. If any of these effects persist or worsen, you should tell your doctor or pharmacist right away.
Side Effects of Tramadol
While it’s rare, tramadol can also cause more serious side effects, including mood changes, severe stomach pain, difficulty urinating, and signs of your adrenal glands not working well (like loss of appetite, unusual tiredness, and weight loss). If you experience these, you should tell your doctor right away.
A serious allergic reaction to tramadol is rare. However, if you notice symptoms like rash, swelling (especially of the face, tongue, or throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing, you need to get medical help immediately.
Risks of Misuse
Tramadol can be addictive, especially with prolonged use. Your risk may be higher if you have a substance use disorder (like overuse of or addiction to drugs/alcohol). Take tramadol exactly as prescribed to lower the risk of addiction.
Interaction with Alcohol
Do not drink alcohol while taking tramadol, as it can enhance the side effects like dizziness and drowsiness.
Before using tramadol, tell your doctor about your medical history, particularly if you have brain disorders, breathing problems, kidney disease, liver disease, mood disorders, or a history of substance abuse.
Tramadol can interact with other medications, which can affect how it works or increase the risk of severe side effects. It’s vital to keep a list of all your products (including prescription or nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Don’t start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor’s approval.