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What Is Butorphanol Tartrate?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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Butorphanol tartrate is a medication that may be injected or used as a nasal spray. Both forms of this medication may be prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain. The injection is often used for women who are giving birth or patients who will undergo a surgical procedure. When it is prescribed as a nasal spray, this drug is often used to alleviate migraine headaches. Butorphanol tartrate is a narcotic pain reliever that works by affecting the central nervous system.

The butorphanol tartrate injection may be administered into a muscle or intravenously into a vein. Patients must carefully sterilize the area of skin to be injected, if they are performing the injection at home. The doctor will demonstrate how to perform the injection, which may be given every three to four hours, or as directed. Those administering the medication into a muscle must use a different injection site each time to avoid damaging skin and tissues.

Patients using the nasal spray form of butorphanol tartrate must prime the device before the first use or if it has been 48 hours since the last use. The bottle should be pumped eight times, pointed away from the face, until the medication emerges. A patient may then shake the bottle, blow his nose gently, and insert the tip into a nostril. The other nostril must be closed with a finger before the patient sprays one dose into the back of the nose.

Some side effects may occur with the use of butorphanol tartrate, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they become severe. Nausea, vomiting, or headaches may occur. Patients may also experience dizziness, drowsiness, and sweating. Those using the injection may notice redness or pain at the injection site, while those using the nasal spray have experienced congestion and a runny nose.

More serious side effects require immediate medical attention. Butorphanol tartrate may rarely cause an irregular heartbeat, fainting, and problems breathing. Hallucinations, seizures, and changes in the amount of urine, as well as severe stomach pain have also been reported. In addition, some patients may notice withdrawal reactions in people who have become dependent on either the injection or the nasal spray. These can include insomnia, diarrhea, and anxiety, as well as stomach cramps.

Before using butorphanol tartrate to control pain or migraine headaches, patients must disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements. The drug should not be used by women who are breastfeeding or pregnant. It may be contraindicated for use by those who have lung problems, bowel diseases, or a history of drug or alcohol abuse. Butorphanol tartrate may interact with other medications, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), sleeping pills, and other pain relievers.

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