Morphine is a powerful opiate analgesic drug which is used for relieving severe pain. It is an alkaloid and is considered as the gold standard, in clinical medicine, among all opioid analgesics that are used for relieving agonizing pain and suffering. Morphine works directly on a patient's central nervous system in the same manner as other opioids such as hydromorphone, oxycodone and diacetyl Morphine. The drug is highly addictive and the patient may develop psychological dependence and tolerance very fast. Physiological dependence may develop when the drug is used for several months.
Primarily, Morphine is used for treating both chronic and acute pain. It is used to treat pain associated with myocardial infarction, labor pain, acute pulmonary edema, etc. Morphine in the immediate release form has been found to be beneficial in relieving the symptom shortness of breath caused by cancer or other ailments. The analgesic effect lasts for three to four hours when Morphine is administered intravenously, subcutaneously or through the intramuscular route. However, the effect lasts for three to six hours when orally administered. Morphine in slow release formulations is also used for opiate substitution therapy.
As is the case with any medicine, Morphine can also cause side effects. It does not, however, mean that all those who take the medication will experience Morphine side effects. Some people may tolerate it well. The side effects that occur in many cases are generally minor and may not require any treatment. Minor side effects that require treatment can be easily handled by the healthcare provider.
Typically, the prescribing information for many medications includes the percentage of side effects as reported in clinical trials. However, it is not the case with many older medications including Morphine. It may, therefore, be difficult to understand the exact side effects of such medications. The most common Morphine side effects are considered to include vomiting and nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, euphoria, sweating, headache, anxiety and constipation.
Some of the following more serious Morphine side effects that the patients may experience should be reported to the healthcare provider immediately. These include the urge to take Morphine in more quantities than what is prescribed or using it for purposes that are non-medical; unsteadiness, unusual changes in mood or behavior, confusion, severe constipation, bradycardia, difficulty in passing urine, hypotension, drowsiness, seizures and allergic reaction.
Non-allergic itching develops due to the usage of Morphine as it causes the release of histamine. A patient who develops itching without any allergy symptoms is not likely to be allergic to Morphine. However, this Morphine side effect, if experienced, must be brought to the attention of the healthcare professional. This is because medications to relieve itching are available.
Morphine can also cause a number of less common side effects. These may include vertigo, dreams that are not normal, absence of menstrual periods, anemia, back pain, blurred vision, chills, taste changes, diarrhea and cramps, dry mouth, difficulty in swallowing, dry skin, heart palpitations, indigestion, insomnia, erectile dysfunction, weight loss, hypertension, etc.
This is not an exhaustive list of Morphine side effects. Patients must consult with their doctors, if they have questions related to side effects. Further, there are many drugs that can cause negative reaction if taken along with Morphine or if traces of Morphine are present in the patient's system. There can be serious side effects if the patient uses or has used a MAO Inhibitor within the last fourteen days. The patient must inform the doctor if he/she is taking sedatives, muscle relaxants or tranquilizers. This is because the active ingredients present in these medications are more or less similar to Morphine and therefore can lead to an overdose. Some of the drugs that will affect Morphine if present in the patient's system are Talwin, Stadol, Buprenex, Subutex and Nubain.
Summarizing, one of the popular drugs available in the market for treating severe pain is Morphine. The highly addictive narcotic acts to numb the pain receptors present in the center of not only the brain, but also the spinal cord. Cancer patients suffering from chronic pain are treated with Morphine as part of palliative care. Patients who are suffering from acute pain following a surgery or an operation are given long acting Morphine as it kills pain for many hours at a time. Patients may experience some or none of the Morphine side effects listed above. As the healthcare provider cannot know beforehand if a patient will develop side effects, the patient must get contact the healthcare provider if he/she develops any side effects.