Opioid Painkiller Linked to Dangerously Low Blood Sugar

Tramadol, a mild opioid painkiller, has been linked to increased risk for dangerous hypoglycemia, according to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Using an analysis of 334,034 patients who were newly treated with tramadol or codeine between 1998 and 2012, researchers found that tramadol was associated with a 52-percent higher risk of hospitalization for hypoglycemia than with codeine.

Both patients with and without diabetes have been shown to suffer from hypoglycemia after using the drug, but risk seems to be elevated more during the first 30 days of use.

Serotonin pathways

Tramadol may cause hypoglycemia because of its effects on serotonin pathways, which can affect blood sugar control.

For patients taking the drug, researchers warn that caution should be exercised - but that not using tramadol entirely may not be necessary.

"Whether tramadol therapy should be particularly avoided in patients receiving hypoglycemic drugs is unclear, but given the drug's limited benefit and unpredictable pharmacological properties, it should be handled at least as carefully in these patients as in others," the researchers said.

Source: MedPage Today

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