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Pain management—with tramadol

What is tramadol?

Tramadol belongs to a class of strong pain relieving medicines known as opioids and is similar to medicines such as morphine. Brand names for tramadol include Tramal ® and Zydol ®.

What is tramadol used for?

Tramadol is used to treat moderate pain and is sometimes prescribed after birth, in combination with other pain relieving medicines, to help manage pain.

How to take tramadol

Take this medication exactly as it was prescribed for you. Never take tramadol in larger amounts, or use it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Tramadol has been specifically prescribed for you and you should never share it with anyone else even if they have the same symptoms as you.

Take each dose of tramadol with a full glass of water.

Potential side effects of tramadol

It is important to remember that all medicines may cause side effects. However, each person responds differently to medicines and a side effect that one person experiences may not necessarily be experienced by another.

You should be aware of the common side effects of tramadol which include nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, constipation, headache, dry mouth, difficulty concentrating, weakness, sweating and dizziness.

Rare, but more serious side effects may include shallow breathing, cold clammy skin, confusion, severe weakness or dizziness, feeling light headed, fainting and convulsions.

If you experience any of these serious side effects you should discontinue taking tramadol and contact your doctor or nearest hospital immediately.

Your pharmacist, midwife and doctor are available to discuss any concerns you may have about the side effects of tramadol.

Taking other pain relieving medicines with tramadol

It is likely that you would have been taking paracetamol (Panadol ®) and an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen (Nurofen ®) or diclofenac (Voltaren ®) as well as tramadol during your stay in hospital.

As these pain relieving medicines work to relieve pain in different ways they are safe to take together. In fact, by using different pain relieving medicines together, they become more effective and can be used at lower doses.

Speak to your pharmacist, midwife or doctor about which pain relieving medicines are best for you.

When should I stop taking tramadol?

As you are taking tramadol to relieve pain, you should continue taking it only for as long as you feel you need it.

Most people find their pain levels decrease quickly once they get home and only require tramadol for a short period of time.

If you finish your supply of tramadol and are still experiencing moderate pain, you should make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible. When you have finished using tramadol please take any remaining capsules to your pharmacy for safe disposal.

Is tramadol safe during breastfeeding?

All medicines are passed into breast milk to some degree. The actual amount of medicine that gets passed on to your baby will depend on a variety of factors including the dose you are taking, how frequently you are taking it and how often your baby is feeding.

Tramadol reaches its maximum levels in breast milk two hours after taking a dose. The amount of tramadol passed to your baby through breast milk can be minimised by taking your dose just before or just after breastfeeding.

Although the amount of tramadol passed into your breast milk is usually too small to have an effect on your baby, you should still monitor your baby for signs of unusual drowsiness and sleepiness, stomach upsets (especially diarrhoea) or any changes in feeding patterns.

If you have any questions or concerns about taking tramadol and breastfeeding speak to your pharmacist, midwife or doctor.

Special instructions for tramadol

Tramadol may cause constipation in some people. Constipation may be prevented by eating foods that contain plenty of fibre, such as wholegrain cereals, green leafy vegetables and fruit, and by drinking six to eight glasses of water each day.

Always be aware when handling your baby that medication can affect your alertness and coordination, making you drowsy and slowing your reaction times.

See how the medication affects you before attempting tasks such as bathing your baby. Take care when standing up from a sitting or lying position, to avoid dizziness.

Time the doses of medicines which make you drowsy to coincide with your baby’s sleep times, if possible.

Some medicines interact with tramadol and prevent it from working effectively or can cause unwanted side effects. It is important that you always tell your doctor, pharmacist, nurse or dentist about any medicines you are taking. This includes anything prescribed for your baby, medicines from a pharmacy, vitamin or mineral supplements and herbal or homeopathic remedies.

This is especially important if you are taking warfarin, antidepressants, St John’s Wort, sleeping tablets, sedatives or muscle relaxants, medicines for epilepsy and migraines, and medicines for nausea and vomiting.

It is also important to let your doctor or pharmacist know if you have or have ever had any of the following conditions: epilepsy; head injury; depression or other mental illnesses; or any problems with your kidneys or liver.

Tramadol storage

Tramadol has no special storage instructions but should be kept in a cool, dry and dark place.

Always keep medicines out of the reach of children.

Useful contacts

Australian Breastfeeding Association provides advice about breastfeeding and can be contacted via 1800 686 2 686.

© 2012 Mater Misericordiae Ltd. ACN 096 708 922

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Last modified 09/11/2015.
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