Frequently Asked Questions About Tramadol

Things You Should Know About Tramadol

What is Tramadol?

Tramadol is categorized as a synthetic prescription drug, advised for the management of moderately severe pain. It is sold under brand names Ultram, Conzip and Ultracet in the USA; Zytram, Durella and Ralivia in Canada; and Zydol and tramadol (by generic name) in most European countries.

What are potential benefits of tramadol over other pain killers?

Its narcotic-like action is helpful in relieving moderate to severe pain unresponsive to over-the-counter painkillers. However unlike narcotic drugs, it has a very low addiction potential and a higher safety profile. Unlike most potent painkillers, it does not affect cardiac or respiratory functioning in the recommended dosage. The generic forms are less expensive compared to brand versions.

How do I determine if tramadol is right for me?

Despite having a better safety and efficacy profile, tramadol is not safe for everyone. Make sure to speak with your healthcare provider regarding dosage and dosing regimen of tramadol.

What are some contraindications of tramadol use?

Avoid using tramadol in these situations:

  • If you have a history of drug allergy
  • If you are pregnant or breast –feeding
  • If you are in the pediatric age group (younger than 18 years- since the effects of tramadol are not well studied in children)
  • If you are above 65 years of age (it may require dose adjustment since drug molecules tend to stay longer in elderly compared to young adults)
  • If you have a strong personal history of epilepsy, seizures, heart condition, kidney or liver dysfunction, stomach upset, psychiatric issues (like major severe depression, suicidal ideation, drug abuse or alcohol dependence).

What are some drugs that I should avoid while on tramadol?

Before starting tramadol, it is recommended to avoid concurrent drug consumption of the following therapeutic agents to avoid serious or life-threatening drug interactions:

  • Carbamazepine
  • Epileptic drugs
  • Anti-psychotic drugs
  • CNS depressants
  • MAO inhibitors.

Are there any potential side effects of tramadol that I should watch out for?

Like most prescription drugs, tramadol has some side effects such as:

  • CNS (Central Nervous System) symptoms: Anxiety, agitation, trouble in concentrating, mood swings (ranging from extreme pleasure to sadness and crying spells), drowsiness.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: Diarrhea/ constipation, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, loss of appetite.
  • Respiratory symptoms: Cough, stuffy nose; Skin changes: Rash, redness of skin, itching and shivering. Most of these symptoms are trivial and improves with time (not requiring any alteration in dosage or dosing regimen).

When should I seek medical help?

While on tramadol, if you develop any of the more severe symptoms such as loss of consciousness, abnormalities in heart rhythm, changes in muscular tone, pinpoint pupils, seizures or breathing difficulty, seek immediate medical attention.

Can I drink alcohol while on tramadol?

Researchers suggest absolutely avoiding alcohol or any other drug while on tramadol. This is because the two drugs potentiate the effect of each other on the brain, leading to drowsiness and loss of consciousness in severe cases. Tramadol also potentiates the effect of brain sedatives, tranquilizers and flu medications. See also Tramadol and Alcohol.

What cautions should I maintain while on tramadol?

Speak to your doctor regarding any caution that you may have to take. For best and safe pain relief, consume drug orally in the prescribed dosage. You can take the pill with or without food, preferably at the same time every day. Moreover, never take 2 doses in less than a 4-hour window.

How long can I stay on tramadol without developing addiction?

There is no absolute safe dosage or dosing period because the development of addiction is dependent on the mode of administration, dose, prior history of drug abuse, dosing regimen and genetic factors. Although the addiction potential is minimal, if the drug is consumed in high doses for prolonged periods, addiction may develop in some individuals.

What is the average length of therapy for tramadol addiction?

The average length of therapy varies depending on the programs you join and other factors pertinent to your addiction. Different institutes offer different programs like 30-, 60-, 90-day or 1-year addiction programs. A healthcare provider is the best person to tell you what treatment or rehabilitation program is best for you based on your addiction characteristics and other factors.

What sort of dosage will I need

The most common dosages for tramadol are 50mg and 100mg. See Tramadol Dosage for more information.

Can tramadol be given to pets?

See Tramadol and Pets.

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