December 14, 2014
Tramadol Causes Low Blood Glucose
As painkillers go, this was a surprise! Admittedly, I have not used this painkiller, but none that I have used caused me any problems and I have taken some powerful painkillers, but not tramadol. Tramadol is a narcotic painkiller whose use has increased worldwide steadily. The new research demonstrates that the drug creates about a threefold increased risk of being hospitalized for low blood glucose.
Even though some of these low blood glucose episodes proved fatal, the association seen in the study does not prove a cause and effect relationship, and instead of issuing a cautionary warning, the researchers just call for more research. Something this problematic should be further researched and at the same time should cause a warning pending additional research. Granted the research was done in Canada, but when WebMD and then Endocrinology Advisor have articles on it, then there has to be some importance attached.
Even though the researchers emphasize that the study found serious low blood glucose even occurred in fewer than one person for every 1,000 people taking tramadol every year. The big surprise is that this is among all types of people and not just those with diabetes. The researchers said an analysis of people who have taken tramadol suggests that 40 percent of tramadol induced hypoglycemia cases did not have known risk factors.
Tramadol is considered a weak narcotic drug used for mild to moderate pain and has grown in popularity because it has been said to be less addictive. Tramadol acts differently than other narcotic drugs, as it disrupts the functioning of two chemicals in the body: serotonin and norepinephrine. This is the aspect of the drug that appears to be related to lowering blood sugar
Anyone who takes tramadol is at risk for low blood sugar, not only people with diabetes, who may already be at risk of low blood sugar due to their diabetes treatment. Prior to use, physicians and patients should consider the balance of all of the possible concerns about tramadol along with its relatively mild beneficial effect at relieving pain.
Tramadol may have a limited role in some patients, but like other narcotics, it carries risks that often outweigh the benefits. Patients should be told about the potential for all adverse effects, including hypoglycemia. Tramadol isn't the only option for pain relief, as there are other weak narcotic drugs that can be used instead of tramadol.