Fentanyl is a potent opiate that is often used to treat chronic pain in patients. This includes chronic cancer pain or pain from severe migraines. Fentanyl is typically used when other medications do not work first, or when pain is extremely severe. Compared to the widely known drug morphine, Fentanyl is 80 times stronger. Fentanyl is highly addictive and deadly when misused or when accidentally over absorbed.
Fentanyl is a Class II substance due to its deadliness and addictive qualities. In pharmacies and hospitals quantities of such drugs are carefully monitored due to their strength and severe results if misused.
What Are Forms Of Fentanyl?
Fentanyl may be found in gel form, as in Duragesic or Transdermal pain patches, or in buccal form.
Duragesic transdermal pain patches have been recalled numerous times since their release in the 90’s. In 2004 all dosage forms of the patches were recalled due to another leak issue which caused thousands of deaths across the United States.
Fentanyl Drug Interactions
Fentanyl interacts with a variety of drugs including:
- HIV Medications
- Numerous antibiotics
For specific brand names of these medications or to find out if anything you are currently taking will interact with Fentanyl, please contact your health provider.
What Are The Fentanyl Side Effects?
Fentanyl side effects include nausea and vomiting, headache, and stomach pain among a variety of side effects. However, Fentanyl can cause serious side effects such as shortness of breath, trouble breathing, and coma to name a few. Anyone experiencing serious side effects should seek medical attention immediately.
Fentanyl may also result in the following side effects:
- Dry mouth
- Stomach or back pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Head Ache
Additional side effects may occur. Please contact your healthcare provider if you have any questions.
If side effects or symptoms change, worsen, or are causing extreme discomfort seek medical attention immediately.
Fentanyl is an extremely powerful medication, and the slightest mishandling can result in overdose.
Fentanyl overdoses result in severe side effects and even death in patients who have the misfortune of coming into too much contact with the drug.
Fentanyl Overdose Symptoms
Fentanyl, the active ingredient in Duragesic, leaks out of the side of defective patches causing the risk of overdose in users. Duragesic overdose symptoms are very serious and include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or confusion
- Extreme fatigue
- Small, pinpoint, pupils
- Difficulty talking, thinking, walking, etc.
- Chest pain
The use of Fentanyl may also result in Opiate toxicity. The risk for Opiate toxicity is increased in patients with medical conditions such as renal failure or other related health problems. Opiate toxicity results in symptoms similar to overdose – including difficulty breathing or suppressed respiratory functions.
Like all opiates, Fentanyl is extremely addictive. Patients using Fentanyl even for a short amount of time may experience withdrawal symptoms. Patients taking Fentanyl for a more extended amount of time, or those who are addicted to Fentanyl, the withdrawal will also occur.
What Is Fentanyl Withdrawal?
Fentanyl is prescribed in transdermal patch form (Duragesic) or buccal form. After using a transdermal Fentanyl patch, it takes the body 17 hours or more for a 50% decrease in Fentanyl concentrations.
Due to the circumstances in which Fentanyl is used, and the addictive nature of the drug, doctors should gradually decrease the dosages. Suddenly stopping Fentanyl may result in severe withdrawal symptoms.
What Are The Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms?
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Runny nose, sneezing, etc.
- Body aches or chills
- Nausea or vomiting
- Irritability, nervousness, etc.
- Stomach cramps
Anyone experiencing these withdrawal symptoms should seek medical help immediately. Withdrawal symptoms may occur in patients who are legally prescribed Fentanyl, or in those who are abusing the drug.
Fentanyl is an extremely addictive drug and runs a high risk of causing physical dependency. A patient who was at one time legally prescribed Fentanyl may now be addicted to the drug.
Those suffering Fentanyl addiction also run the very high risk of suffering from a Fentanyl overdose. Addiction may cause patients to overuse Fentanyl resulting in an overdose.
Fentanyl Overdose Causes Death
Patients overdosing on Fentanyl may experience a myriad of severe side effects or pass away unexpectedly because of the drug. These cases are extremely tragic seeing as a person can suddenly lose their life due to a medication they were prescribed after a minor surgery or for chronic headaches.
FDA Warns Fentanyl Overdose
In 2008 Johnson & Johnson issued a recall of their Duragesic 25-microgram/hour pain patches due to a possible cut in one side allowing Fentanyl to be over-absorbed by patients. These Fentanyl leaks have caused severe side effects and death in many patients across the United States.