Why would a doctor prescribe opioids?
Opioids are a group of medications that interact with opioid receptors of the nervous system. As a result of this binding, the pharmacological effect occurs, generally relieving pain. Do you know what are the causes why a doctor decides to prescribe opioids?
Opioids are safe medications, but they can generate tolerance. So when a high dose is used, the patient becomes accustomed to the drug and increasingly requires a larger amount to produce the same effect.
The compounds more employees are hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and codeine. There are many more, but these are the ones with the greatest margin of safety.
What are opioids used for?
Opioids are used to alleviate pain when it is severe and directly affects the quality of life of the patient. Its mechanism of action allows modulating the painful stimuli that reach the nervous system through interaction with opioid receptors.
As a result of this chain reaction, the intensity with which it is perceived the pain diminishes or disappears completely.
The first opioid used was morphine. To calculate the analgesic power of an opioid, a scale is used that takes morphine as a starting point (that is, morphine is the value 1) and, from there, a number indicates what percentage of action it has. the medicine.
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The Opioid receptors are proteins that are located on the surface of the cells of the Central Nervous System (as in the brain, spinal cord, etc.) and continuously throughout the digestive tract.
The mechanism of dependence resides precisely in these molecules, since with each use new receptors are synthesized thanks to the activation of the gene in charge of coding the information for that protein.
With more receivers, the activating signal is modulated and each time it is required to increase the dose so there are more particles that can bind to surface receptors and cause the desired effect.
Why can a doctor prescribe opioids?
The The main reason to prescribe opioids is pain. When a patient presents chronic pain there are psychic and physical alterations that worsen their quality of life.
In these types of situations, the only alternative is to prescribe minor opioids. This subgroup of substances presents a moderate analgesic action, but its management is easier.
On the other hand, when the patient has acute pain of great intensity, a bolus of major opioids is chosen. This family is more powerful, but they have a very narrow therapeutic margin. it is necessary to watch closely that tolerance does not occur.
Be the opioid that is, Only the time indicated by the doctor should be consumed. This is the only way to avoid side effects (explained in the next paragraph). They are always administered under medical prescription. In addition to the dose, you must respect the interval between administrations and breaks.
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What are the side effects?
As already mentioned, The main drawback is tolerance. However, these medications are prescribed when there is no other alternative so it can be accepted. Another very different thing, but one that must also be taken into account, is the abuse of these substances without therapeutic purposes.
In this sense, the person has no medical justification for their employment but the The pleasant sensation that opioids produce becomes an addiction. At this point, the tolerance is so great that mechanisms responsible for generating dependence are produced, and the person has a withdrawal syndrome.
Finally, it should be noted that despite its bad reputation, opioids are very useful not only for its great ability to alleviate pain, but also they also improve the mood of the patient.
By eliminating the pain, the person recovers functional capacity and is able to perform tasks normally. The latter is very important in chronic patients, since it influences their mental health.