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What Is Intravenous Fentanyl?

Intravenous fentanyl, a narcotic pain reliever, is usually delivered in the hospital when a patient is in severe pain.
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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 23 April 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Intravenous fentanyl is a strong narcotic pain reliever that is used primarily in a hospital setting for pain relief and anesthesia. As an intravenous medication, this drug is delivered directly into the body through a small catheter that has been inserted into a vein. Some of the possible side effects of intravenous fentanyl include nausea, headache, and dizziness. More serious potential side effects include respiratory depression, changes in blood pressure levels, and allergic reactions. Any questions or concerns about intravenous fentanyl or whether this medication is safe in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Studies have shown that intravenous fentanyl is more effective than morphine for severe pain and tends to take effect more quickly. There are also fewer overall side effects associated with the use of intravenous fentanyl. This medication is often used for cancer patients who are unable to obtain adequate pain relief from other drugs and is commonly used in many emergency rooms.

In some cases, intravenous fentanyl may be combined with other medications and used for anesthesia during a variety of surgical procedures. This drug may also be used before and after surgery to treat medical conditions that cause severe pain. Those with certain medical concerns, such as kidney disease or heart problems, may not be able to use this medication, or the dose may need to be adjusted.

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Side effects associated with intravenous fentanyl are usually mild and often disappear within a few hours of use, as the medication begins to leave the body. Some of the most common side effects include dizziness, headache, and mild gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea or vomiting. Caution should be taken when performing any activities that require intense focus or concentration while under the influence of this medication.

Serious side effects of intravenous fentanyl are possible, and the patient will be monitored closely for any signs of potential complications. Slowed or difficult breathing is one of the most prevalent complications and may occasionally require the use of supplemental oxygen therapy. Blood pressure levels may fall too low or rise too high, often requiring the use of medications designed to regulate blood pressure so that damage to the heart does not occur. A severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis may occur in some who are given this drug. Symptoms of this complication may include the development of a rash, swelling of the face or throat, and difficulty breathing.

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