Tramadol is a pain killer that mimics the way in which the opioids work, i.e. it affects the way in which the central nervous system transmits and understands messages about pain. The drug changes the way the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin operate within the body. The result is that, even though there may be a source of moderately severe pain within the body, the brain is less aware of it. This either allows a person to recover from injuries with less suffering or, if the pain is chronic, gives the “victim” a better quality of life even though the pain is still present.
As with any strong prescription only drug, there are always potential problems and, unless this is an emergency situation, you should only buy tramadol and use it upon the advice of a doctor. It is particularly important to have proper advice if you are taking other medications. The following situations are examples of the problems that can arise.
If you are taking an opioid, antidepressants in the tricyclic and SSRI classes, or any other drug that reduces the seizure threshold, there is a risk of convulsions if you exceed the recommended dosage. This risk rises significantly if you have a seizure disorder such as epilepsy, or you have suffered a head injury, you are suffering from alcohol or drug withdrawal symptoms, etc. Even though you may not suffer convulsions or seizures, you may become unusually agitated or suffer hallucinations if you are taking any other drugs that affect the serotonin levels in your body.
You should not take this drug if you have problems of addiction, or ever thought about harming yourself or taking your own life. There is a risk of dependence and suicide rates are higher among those who take tramadol.
If you overdose, particularly in combination with alcohol, this can be fatal.
That said, this is one of the world’s top-selling pain killers and, in almost all cases, it is used safely so long as the doctor’s instructions are followed and the dosages are maintained as instructed. If you respect the power of the drug, it will protect you from pain. If you abuse it, the consequences can be serious.
What to tell your doctor
It is important that you are completely honest with your doctor and tell him or her if you:
- have ever considered suicide;
- have ever been addicted to alcohol or drugs;
- are taking any other medications or using street drugs;
- suffer from a clinical depression or bipolar disorder; or
- have a liver or kidney disease.
You should tell your doctor if you are or plan to become pregnant.
How to take tramadol
Always follow the directions given by your doctor and never change the dosage without first asking for advice. Take the tablets whole with a glass of water. Do not crush the tablet or capsule if you are using the extended release form. There are no particular rules about food. Simply be consistent and take tramadol with or without food as you prefer.