What is Tramadol, what are the side effects, is it banned anywhere apart from Egypt and how easy is it to become addicted?
The strong painkiller is often prescribed to patients who are suffering extreme discomfort after surgery and injury
By Jennifer Newton
TRAMADOL is the strong painkiller that can only be prescribed by a doctor to people suffering severe pain.
Here’s all you need to know about the drug that TV star Ant McPartlin says he became addicted to after knee surgery.
What is Tramadol?
Tramadol is an extremely strong painkiller given to patients who are in extreme discomfort when other traditional painkillers stop working.
It is available by prescription only and comes in tablet, capsule and liquid drops that you swallow.
It works by stopping pain signals from travelling along the nerves to the brain to ease any discomfort a person might be feeling.
Tramadol is quite often given to patients who might be in pain after major surgery or to people who have long-term conditions such as arthritis.
Is Tramadol banned anywhere?
Tramadol is available on prescription in the UK, but some countries have strict laws regarding the drug.
Customs officials in countries such as Egypt are extremely hot on any drug that has been derived from opium poppies.
Brit holidaymaker Laura Plummer, 33, was this week left fearing the death penalty in Egypt for carrying the painkillers with a “street value” of £23.
The Foreign Office says: “Some prescribed and over-the-counter medicines that are available in the UK are considered controlled substances in Egypt and can’t be brought into the country without prior permission from Egypt’s Ministry of Health.
“If you arrive in Egypt without this permission and the required documentation, the medication will not be allowed into the country and you may be prosecuted.”
Other countries that take a hard line on drugs such as Tramadol and codeine include Dubai, Abu Dhabi and elsewhere in the UAE.
Thailand requires travellers to carry a permit for any of their personal medications and those visiting Canada and Vietnam are also advised to carry a letter from their GP listing any prescribed medicines, as well as their dosage.
What are the side effects of taking Tramadol?
Even though Tramadol is a very effective painkiller, like all drugs, there can be side effects to taking it.
Common side effects that aren’t much of a cause for concern include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, constipation and a dry mouth.
However, some people suffer more serious issues that are linked to taking Tramadol.
These include itching, rashes and a swelling of the face, lips, tongue and throat.
Some people have reported have difficulty breathing and their asthma becoming worse as a result of taking the drug.
Other reported side effects have included a sudden fast heartbeat, heart palpitations, muscles spasms and even feelings of anxiety.
How easy is it to become addicted to Tramadol?
As long as you take Tramadol in the doses your doctor recommends, it is unlikely that you will be become addicted.
However, it can be a highly addictive, as people who are in pain can develop a dependency on the drug to relieve them of their symptoms.
This can be the case if they have been taking Tramadol over a long period of time.
TV presenter Ant McPartlin recently opened up about his Tramadol addiction after a two month stint in rehab.
He was prescribed the drug after having surgery to repair a knee injury he sustained while dancing on TV show Saturday Night Takeaway.
But he soon grew dependent on the painkiller before being given a more extreme drug by doctors.
TV host Richard Madeley has revealed he also took the same painkillers which led to Ant’s rehab stint but ended up flushing them down the toilet when he saw how addictive they were.
Can Tramadol be mixed with alcohol?
Patients who are prescribed Tramadol are advised that they should not drink alcohol while taking the drug.
But some people find that mixing the two increases the effect of Tramadol, which can put them at a greater risk of developing a dependency on it.
Mixing alcohol and Tramadol can also affect the central nervous system meaning that it decreases your motor co-ordination and mental alertness.
Taking both substances in large quantities can cause seizures, slowed heartbeat loss of consciousness and can even prove fatal.