Pain can be a major challenge for people living with chronic illness. In some cases, it can even be debilitating.

This is why finding the right treatment for pain is important. There are many options available, including physical therapy, acupuncture and cognitive behavioral therapy. One option is tramadol, which can help block pain signals in the brain and body. It is also less likely to cause dependence than other opioids.

How Does Tramadol Work?

In general, tramadol works by changing the way your body senses pain and is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. It belongs to a class of medications called opioid analgesics. It acts in the brain and spine (central nervous system) to reduce the feeling of pain. It can also be taken as an extended-release tablet or capsule for around-the-clock treatment of chronic pain.

Tramadol can cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness or nausea. It may not be safe to use it if you have certain medical conditions, such as liver disease or kidney disease. Also, it is not recommended for people who have had seizures or have a history of them. It is also not recommended for children under 12 years old.

Long-term tramadol use during pregnancy can cause withdrawal in your unborn baby. The drug can pass through the placenta and enter your baby’s bloodstream. This can cause withdrawal symptoms in your baby, such as high-pitched crying, poor feeding and sucking, trembling, and sleep patterns that are different from normal. This condition is known as neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and can be life-threatening.

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Tramadol can interact with other medications, such as SSRIs or SNRIs, antidepressants, MAO inhibitors (isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine) or some antibiotics. This can increase your risk of seizures or other serious side effects.

What Are the Side Effects of Tramadol?

Tramadol is in a class of medications called opioid (narcotic) analgesics. It works in the brain and spine to reduce pain. This medication may cause serious or life-threatening breathing problems, especially in children younger than 12 years or in people with certain breathing disorders such as asthma. This medicine can also cause a severe, painful headache. This drug increases your risk of seizures if you have a history of seizures or take certain other medicines that affect serotonin, including antidepressants, St. John’s wort, rifampin (Rifadin), or etanercept (Prograf).

This medicine can make you extremely sleepy. Do not drive or do other activities that require alertness until you know how this medication affects you. This medication can also cause dizziness. It is not safe to drink alcohol or take other drugs that can cause sleepiness while you are taking tramadol.

Do not take more of this medication than prescribed by your doctor. Taking too much can cause dangerous side effects such as breathing problems, a decreased heart rate, or confusion. Tell your doctor if you have a blockage or narrowing of the stomach or intestines; kidney, gall bladder, or pancreas disease; low blood levels of sodium; a history of depression or mental illness; or thoughts about harming yourself or planning to kill yourself.

Taking tramadol with other medications that can cause sleepiness or slow your breathing can increase your risk of side effects such as slowed or shallow breathing, and death. These include sedatives (medicines used to treat insomnia), cold and allergy medicines, narcotic pain relievers, muscle relaxants, some antidepressants, and some antibiotics.

What Are the Advantages of Tramadol?

Tramadol is a strong pain reliever that works by changing how your brain senses pain. It is used to treat moderate to severe pain in adults and children 12 years of age or older. It belongs to a class of medications called opiate (narcotic) analgesics.

Some medicines interact with tramadol and can cause serious side effects. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and nutritional supplements you take. Your doctor may need to change your doses of these medications or monitor you more closely. This medicine can also raise your risk for seizures, especially if you take it with other drugs that raise seizure risk such as sedatives (e.g., benzodiazepines, barbiturates), alcohol, or other central nervous system depressants (e.g., phenothiazines).

This medication can cause very low blood pressure. This can lead to dizziness and fainting. To help avoid this, stand up slowly after sitting or lying down and drink plenty of water. This medication can also cause a decrease in your platelet count. This can lead to bleeding problems, including life-threatening blood loss from nose or gums. If you have anemia, tell your doctor.

This medication can pass into breast milk and can have serious effects on a nursing baby. Talk to your doctor before breastfeeding. Stopping this medication suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms in some people. Withdrawal symptoms include runny nose, yawning, sweating, chills, return of pain, anxiety, restlessness, and trouble sleeping.

What Are the Disadvantages of Tramadol?

Taking too much tramadol or taking it more often than prescribed can cause serious side effects, including seizures and death. This medication isn’t safe for anyone who has a history of head injury, liver or kidney problems, depression, mental illness, or addiction to drugs or alcohol. It also may raise the chance of seizures, especially if you take other medications that increase your risk for them.

Tramadol can cause drowsiness and affect coordination. It’s best to avoid driving or operating machinery while taking this medication. It can cause low blood pressure, which can lead to dizziness or fainting if you stand up too quickly after sitting or lying down. If you experience these symptoms, try to lie down or sit down for a few minutes before standing up again.

You shouldn’t drink alcohol while taking tramadol, as it can increase your risk of side effects such as slowed breathing, decreased heart rate, or confusion. You should also talk to your doctor if you’re taking St. John’s wort, as it can interact with tramadol and lead to serotonin syndrome, a condition that includes symptoms such as feeling agitated or restless, a fast heart rate, high body temperature, and nausea or vomiting.

This drug is a controlled substance, so it’s important to keep it out of reach of children. If your child accidentally takes this medicine, call a poison control center right away.

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