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AR Adverse Effects Of Morphine Adverse Effects of Morphine Morphine is an opioid analgesic frequently used for relieving different types ofacute and chronic pains. Morphine acts on the central nervous system to relieve pain and morphine is more effective in pains associated with tissue injury, tumors and inflammation than neuropathic pain syndromes. The main adverse effects of morphine are respiratory depression, constipation, nausea and vomiting, tolerance and euphoria (Ritter et al 1999). Each one of the adverse effects is explained below.
Respiratory depression occurs when a normal dose of morphine or morphine like drugs is given which results in the increased partial pressure of carbon dioxide in arterial blood because of the depressed respiration. The sensitivity of the respiratory centre to carbon dioxide is also decreased by morphine and morphine like drugs. Neurons of the medullary respiratory center are not depressed directly but when opioids are applied to ventral surface of the medulla, which is the area where the carbon dioxide chemo sensitivity is maximal, it greatly depresses the respiration. The depression of the respiratory center caused by opioids is not accompanied by the depression of cardiovascular center and this is because opioids are considered to be better than drugs such as barbiturate. So the respiratory depression is the most important adverse effect of morphine and it is the most common cause of death in acute opioid poisoning (Ritter et al 1999).
Secondly morphine also causes increase in tone and reduces the gastrointestinal motility which causes constipation. Another effect of morphine on the gastrointestinal tract is the constriction of biliary sphincter which increases the pressure in the biliary tract and this increased pressure in the biliary tract is harmful in patients suffering from biliary colic due to gallstone. This is the reason that patients suffering from biliary colic suffer from severe pain (Stein, amp. Yassouridis 1997).
Nausea and vomiting is also included in the list of side effects of morphine. Nausea and vomiting occur in 40 % of patients. Morphine stimulates the trigger zone in the brainstem which causes nausea and vomiting.
Euphoria is also another adverse effect of morphine. By introducing morphine intravenously the patient experiences a pleasant sensation with decreasing anxiety and stress. Sometimes in some patients the effect of morphine may be opposite causing dysphoria, an unpleasant state characterized by restlessness (Ritter et al 1999).
Tolerance to opioids develops hastily because of which increased doses of opioids would be necessary to produce the same pharmacological effects. Somehow morphine causes human beings to be dependent on it. In other words it has a strong psychological effect which would provide a sense of addiction to the human beings (Yaksh 1997).
Morphine causes release of histamine from the mast cells and the histamine released by the morphine can cause urticaria and itching at the site of injection. Morphine can also cause bronchoconstriction and hypotension (Yaksh 1997).
In short morphine has many adverse effects on the human being but it is still known as one of the best analgesics in the world. However further room for improvement in the class of analgesic is required.
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Rang, H. P., Dale, M. M., amp. Ritter, J. M. (1999).Pharmacology. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
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Stein, C., amp. Yassouridis, A. (1997). Peripheral morphine analgesia.nbsp.Pain.nbsp.71 (2), 119.
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Yaksh TL. (1997). Pharmacology and mechanisms of opioid analgesic activity.nbsp.Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica.nbsp.41 (1), 94-111.
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