Side Effects Of Tramadol

A List of Tramadol Side Effects and Warning Signs

Tramadol is one of the most potent analgesics available today to treat moderately severe pain; however, like all pharmacological medications, tramadol is also harmful in large doses (or even in normal dosage in some genetically susceptible individuals). Analgesics are the traditional pain medications that we all consume for different types of aches and pains. Common over-the-counter pain medications such as Aspirin and Tylenol are classified as NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and can treat most trivial muscular pains. However, moderate to severe pain (for example pain as a result of surgery or a fracture) is normally not responsive to over-the-counter pain medications.

For these situations, opioids are normally prescribed by healthcare professionals. Tramadol is considered superior to most opioids in terms of its clinical effectiveness and comparatively lower addiction potential when compared to other opioids such as morphine or codeine. It is indeed a top choice for the short-term management of post-operative or acute pain.

Tramadol Side Effects

Tramadol is a potent drug and the risk of developing reactions or side effects is a fair concern for clinicians as well as patients. Tramadol exerts its action by affecting opioid receptors and although the mechanism of action is pretty similar to morphine and other opioids, tramadol also inhibits the uptake of serotonin and norepinephrine (neurochemicals in the brain) which are in part responsible for superior therapeutic efficacy when compared to morphine and codeine.

The most common side effects observed with tramadol include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, dry mouth, and sedation. These are generally well-tolerated and do not require any dose modification. However, the severity can be minimized by dose adjustment. For example, M. Cossmann[1] suggested in his report that the overall risk of developing nausea and vomiting are 17.8% and 7.0% respectively when the drug is administered intravenously. However, with oral intake the risk is only 4.2% and 0.5% respectively. He further suggested that the overall risk of complications with tramadol is only 1% to 6% (depending upon the dosage and manner of administration).

If you are prescribed tramadol, you may want to acquaint yourself with some potential but uncommon side effects of tramadol:

Tramadol Warnings

One of the biggest concerns of clinicians when prescribing tramadol to patients for long periods of time is the potential for addiction. This is because most opioids activate addiction pathways in the brain which result in the requirement of higher dosages to produce similar a degree of relief. This results in a persistent and sometimes uncontrollable craving to consume the drug, as well as severe withdrawal reactions if the drug is not consumed.

The risk of addiction to tramadol is minimal as suggested by a number of studies. However, for best results, it is best to follow the standard protocol, given below.

How to Minimize the Risk of Side Effects

To minimize health risks, it is highly recommended to take tramadol according to the prescription of your doctor. Long-term and unnecessary usage in high quantities is associated with the risk of addiction and the development of life threatening toxicity. Other helpful tips include:

Although the risk of complications is low with moderate and short-term intake of tramadol, it is strongly suggested to see a healthcare professional if:

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  1. Cossmann, M., Kohnen, C., Langford, R., & McCartney, C. (1997). Tolerance and safety of tramadol use. Results of international studies and data from drug surveillance. Drugs, 53, 50.
  2. Whelton, A. (2000). Renal and related cardiovascular effects of conventional and COX-2-specific NSAIDs and non-NSAID analgesics. American journal of therapeutics, 7(2), 63.
  3. Lee, C. R., McTavish, D., & Sorkin, E. M. (1993). Tramadol. A preliminary review of its pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties, and therapeutic potential in acute and chronic pain states. Drugs, 46(2), 313.
  4. Cossmann, M., Kohnen, C., Langford, R., & McCartney, C. (1997). Tolerance and safety of tramadol use. Results of international studies and data from drug surveillance. Drugs, 53, 50.