How do Doctors Determine the Appropriate Morphine Dosage?

Erin J. Hill

There is generally no right or wrong morphine dosage. The amount given will fully depend on the individual patient and each person is treated as such. Most times doctors will begin with the lowest possible amount that may be effective and then slowly increase the dosage until adequate pain relief is achieved.

Morphine is derived from the opium poppy.
Morphine is derived from the opium poppy.

Doctors may also consider a patient’s opiate tolerance when considering the appropriate morphine dosage. The lowest available dosage is generally given to start with. This can be increased depending on how much pain a patient is in. Patients can generally not be given morphine unless they have been given another opioid medication to ensure they are tolerant. Anyone who is unsure if he or she is tolerant should be sure to give this information to a doctor.

Higher doses of morphine can be administered through an IV.
Higher doses of morphine can be administered through an IV.

Morphine is a strong drug and it is quite habit-forming. Those with drug addictions may not be given this medication unless it is closely controlled and monitored by a doctor. Certain health conditions may not be compatible with this drug and the proper morphine dosage may be affected. Less medication may be given to those with underlying bowel problems or those who have had an allergic reaction to an opioid drug.

When doctors begin increasing the morphine dosage for a particular patient, they generally do so gradually and closely monitor the patient’s reaction. This not only includes keeping track of how much pain he or she is in, but also monitoring how well the body is responding to the drug. Some patients can withstand more pain medication than others without side effects. This may depend on height and weight as well as other factors. Respiration, heart rhythms, and other bodily functions must be closely monitored with each increased dosage.

Morphine is not right for everyone. When less severe pain medications can be used, they are generally recommended. Opiates are used for moderate to severe pain only. Those with mild discomfort will generally be given a mild prescription or over the counter medication. Morphine can be delivered in higher doses intravenously, although this is often reserved for those with a very serious illness or injury which causes extreme pain.

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