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What is fentanyl?

What exactly is fentanyl? Well, it is a synthetic opioid used to alleviate moderate to severe pain. The strength of fentanyl is mind-boggling, being up to 100 times more potent than other opioids like morphine, heroin or oxycodone. This controlled substance is classified as a narcotic analgesic and is often used for long-lasting pain relief in cancer patients. However, when administered through patches, nasal sprays, lollipops, injections, sublingual tablets or sprays, fentanyl acts immediately, addressing breakthrough pain. For people suffering from chronic pain, there is a potential danger of addiction, overdose, or even death as a result of misuse and abuse of this potent drug.

It is important to note that fentanyl is listed as a Schedule 2 controlled substance under the controlled substances act (CSA). You must exercise extreme caution when using this drug as it can lead to addiction, overdose, or even death, especially in children and others who take it without a prescription.

If you are pregnant, it is crucial to avoid fentanyl use as it can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the newborn. Furthermore, taking fentanyl with alcohol or other drugs that cause drowsiness can be fatal.

Before taking fentanyl, you must inform your doctor about any medical conditions you may have, including breathing problems, sleep apnea, mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, urination problems, seizure disorders, liver or kidney disease, or problems with your gallbladder, pancreas, or thyroid.

It is also important to know that if you are using fentanyl patches, you should notify your doctor if you have been sick with a fever, as it can increase the amount of drug you absorb through your skin.

In addition, fentanyl use during pregnancy can cause the baby to become dependent on the drug, which can result in life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after birth.

Fentanyl products come in two main types: long-acting and immediate-acting fentanyl. Long-acting fentanyl is delivered through patches and is typically used for treating moderate to severe chronic pain around the clock. Immediate-acting fentanyl comes in the form of a lollipop, nasal spray, sublingual tablets, sublingual sprays, or injections and is used to address breakthrough cancer pain that is not controlled by other medicines.

Overall, you should exercise caution when using fentanyl, and only use it if you have a personal prescription for this medicine. It is also important to adhere to your doctor’s guidelines and not switch to another form of fentanyl without their recommendation. Furthermore, you should not begin fentanyl transdermal patches as your first opioid, and patients that require a 48-hour dosing interval should receive an evaluation before changing dosing intervals.

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