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What is Morphine?

Morphine is a powerful narcotic that's used to treat acute and chronic pain. This medication numbs the brain and central nervous system (CNS), inhibiting the body's response to pain. As a result, the morphine-induced patient is unable to sense pain. Although morphine is effective at relieving pain, it's also highly addictive. Therefore, it should only be used as either a last resort or before or after surgery.

What is Morphine Used to Treat?

Morphine is used to treat a number of ailments, ranging from short-term back pain to cancer. The medication may also be used before or after an invasive surgery. It's commonly used as part of hospice care because it relieves pain, anxiety, and shortness of breath in dying patients. In addition to masking pain, morphine can also suppress coughing.

This medication is available in tablet, capsule or liquid form. Depending on the severity of one's pain, he or she may be prescribed either a short-acting or long-acting morphine dosage. A physician will determine the type of morphine that's best suited to treat a patient's pain, as well as evaluate any potential morphine side effects.

Common Side Effects of Morphine

There are several mild morphine side effects, including constipation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, reduced hunger, headache, memory loss, and insomnia. People taking morphine may also develop skin irritations because the medication releases histamines (chemicals that cause inflammation). More serious side effects of morphine may include trouble breathing, seizure, fainting, cold, clammy skin, and confusion.

Keep in mind that taking morphine also impairs one's ability to operate machinery. Physicians also advise patients to stop drinking alcohol while they're on this medication. Combined with alcohol, morphine may lead to hyperventilation, low blood pressure, coma or even death.

Depending on your pain, morphine may only be prescribed for a short period of time. This is because people may develop morphine addiction over time. For this reason, it's important for a patient to carefully follow his or her prescribed morphine dosage. Doing this can reduce one's risk of becoming physically or emotionally dependent on morphine. It can also lower his or her chances of suffering from a morphine overdose, which may cause irregular breathing, an unstable pulse or fainting.

Although morphine addiction is a possibility, it's not recommended that patients stop treatment altogether. Doing this may result in morphine withdrawal. Morphine withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, chills, and sweating, may continue for up to three days.

Deciding if Morphine Is Right for You

If you're experiencing acute or chronic pain, talk with your physician to see if morphine can treat your condition. To determine if morphine is a suitable treatment, your doctor will examine your medical history and current condition. If your doctor deems morphine the best treatment option, he or she will prescribe an appropriate morphine dosage to calm your pain. When taking this particular medication, be especially mindful of the risks associated with morphine addiction and morphine overdose.

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