How to use Tramadol
Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start taking tramadol and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Take tramadol by mouth as directed by your doctor, usually every 4 to 6 hours as needed for pain relief. You may take tramadol with or without food. If you have nausea, it may help to take tramadol with food. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about other ways to decrease nausea (such as lying down for 1 to 2 hours with as little head movement as possible).
The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. To reduce your risk of side effects, your doctor may direct you to start tramadol at a low dose and gradually increase your dose. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. The maximum recommended dose is 400 milligrams per day. If you are older than 75 years, the maximum recommended dose is 300 milligrams per day. Do not increase your dose, take tramadol more frequently, or take tramadol for a longer time than prescribed. Properly stop tramadol when so directed.
Pain medications work best if they are used as the first signs of pain occur. If you wait until the pain has worsened, tramadol may not work as well.
If you have ongoing pain (such as due to arthritis), your doctor may direct you to also take long-acting opioid medications. In that case, tramadol might be used for sudden (breakthrough) pain only as needed. Other pain relievers (such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen) may also be prescribed. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about using tramadol safely with other drugs.
Suddenly stopping tramadol may cause withdrawal, especially if you have used it for a long time or in high doses. To prevent withdrawal, your doctor may lower your dose slowly. Tell your doctor or pharmacist right away if you have any withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, mental/mood changes (including anxiety, trouble sleeping, thoughts of suicide), watering eyes, runny nose, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, muscle aches, or sudden changes in behavior.
When tramadol is used for a long time, it may not work as well. Talk with your doctor if tramadol stops working well.
Though it helps many people, tramadol may sometimes cause addiction. This risk may be higher if you have a substance use disorder (such as overuse of or addiction to drugs/alcohol). Take tramadol exactly as prescribed to lower the risk of addiction. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Tell your doctor if your pain does not get better or if it gets worse
Nausea, vomiting, constipation, lightheadedness, dizziness, drowsiness, or headache may occur. Some of these side effects may decrease after you have been using this medication for a while. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
To prevent constipation, eat dietary fiber, drink enough water, and exercise. You may also need to take a laxative. Ask your pharmacist which type of laxative is right for you.
To reduce the risk of dizziness and lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a sitting or lying position.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: interrupted breathing during sleep (sleep apnea), mental/mood changes (such as agitation, hallucinations), severe stomach/abdominal pain, difficulty urinating, signs of your adrenal glands not working well (such as loss of appetite, unusual tiredness, weight loss).
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: fast/irregular heartbeat, severe dizziness, fainting, seizure.
This medication may increase serotonin and rarely cause a very serious condition called serotonin syndrome/toxicity. The risk increases if you are also taking other drugs that increase serotonin, so tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take (see Drug Interactions section). Get medical help right away if you develop some of the following symptoms: fast heartbeat, hallucinations, loss of coordination, severe dizziness, severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, twitching muscles, unexplained fever, unusual agitation/restlessness.
Tramadol is changed into a strong opioid drug in your body. In some people, this change happens faster and more completely than usual, which increases the risk of very serious side effects. Get medical help right away if you notice any of the following: slow/shallow breathing, severe drowsiness/difficulty waking up, confusion.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any of the following symptoms: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Before taking tramadol, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: brain disorders (such as head injury, tumor, seizures), breathing problems (such as asthma, sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD), kidney disease, liver disease, mental/mood disorders (such as confusion, depression, suicidal thoughts), personal or family history of a substance use disorder (such as overuse of or addiction to drugs/alcohol), stomach/intestinal problems (such as blockage, constipation, diarrhea due to infection, paralytic ileus), difficulty urinating (such as due to enlarged prostate), gallbladder disease, disease of the pancreas (pancreatitis), obesity.
This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness until you can do it safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).
Tramadol may cause a condition that affects the heart rhythm (QT prolongation). QT prolongation can rarely cause serious (rarely fatal) fast/irregular heartbeat and other symptoms (such as severe dizziness, fainting) that need medical attention right away.
The risk of QT prolongation may be increased if you have certain medical conditions or are taking other drugs that may cause QT prolongation. Before using tramadol, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take and if you have any of the following conditions: certain heart problems (heart failure, slow heartbeat, QT prolongation in the EKG), family history of certain heart problems (QT prolongation in the EKG, sudden cardiac death).
Low levels of potassium or magnesium in the blood may also increase your risk of QT prolongation. This risk may increase if you use certain drugs (such as diuretics/’water pills’) or if you have conditions such as severe sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting. Talk to your doctor about using tramadol safely.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Some children may be more sensitive to very serious side effects of tramadol, such as extreme sleepiness, confusion, or slow/shallow/noisy breathing. (See also Warning section.) Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, slow/shallow breathing, and QT prolongation (see above).
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. It may harm an unborn baby. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. (See also Warning section.) This medication passes into breast milk and may have undesirable effects on a nursing infant, such as unusual sleepiness, difficulty feeding, or trouble breathing. Breast-feeding while using this drug is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
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