How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
Morphine belongs to the class of medications called narcotic analgesics (pain relievers). These pain relievers are also known as opioid analgesics. This medication relieves severe pain when less potent pain relievers are not effective. Opioids decrease pain by working on the brain to increase pain tolerance. Morphine immediate release works quickly. It will usually relieve pain within about 30 minutes.
This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
Each round, green tablet contains morphine sulfate, USP (pentahydrate) 5 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: cornstarch, croscarmellose sodium, D&C Yellow No. 10, FD&C Blue No. 1, isopropyl alcohol, lactose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, povidone, and talc.
Each round, blue tablet contains morphine sulfate, USP (pentahydrate) 10 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: cornstarch, croscarmellose sodium, FD&C Blue No. 1, isopropyl alcohol, lactose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, povidone, and talc.
Each round, pink tablet contains morphine sulfate, USP (pentahydrate) 25 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: cornstarch, croscarmellose sodium, FD&C Red No. 40, isopropyl alcohol, lactose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, povidone, and talc.
Each round, orange tablet contains morphine sulfate, USP (pentahydrate) 50 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: cornstarch, croscarmellose sodium, FD&C Yellow No. 6, isopropyl alcohol, lactose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, povidone, and talc.
How should I use this medication?
Doses of morphine vary widely and depend on an individual's circumstances.
After a certain dose of morphine has been taken for a period of time, the body often gets used to it and a higher dose of morphine is needed to relieve the pain. Generally, your doctor will try to find the dose of morphine that will give you acceptable pain relief without an unacceptable level of side effects. This helps to reduce the side effects of the medication and allows for the dose to be adjusted upwards if needed. Always check with your doctor if you feel your medication isn't working well anymore.
Over time, this medication may produce tolerance and physical dependence as your body becomes used to the medication. Tolerance occurs when a dose that used to provide acceptable pain relief is no longer effective, and higher doses are required to achieve the same level of pain relief. Physical dependence is a state where the body will go into withdrawal if the medication is stopped suddenly. If you have been taking morphine on a regular basis for a long period of time, talk to your doctor before stopping the medication, as withdrawal effects can occur.
Tolerance and physical dependence are not the same as addiction. Addiction is defined as a psychological need to use the medication for reasons other than pain relief. Although people may become addicted to this medication, it is most common for people who have had addictions to other substances in the past.
The liquid form of morphine may be mixed with a glass of fruit juice just before taking it to improve the taste.
If you are using a suppository, first remove the foil wrapper and moisten the suppository with cold water. Lie down on your side and use your finger to push the suppository well up into the rectum. If you find the suppository is too soft to insert, chill it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or run cold water over it before removing the foil wrapper.
Many things can affect the dose of a medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.
Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Morphine should not be taken by anyone who:
- is allergic to morphine, other narcotic analgesics, or to any of the ingredients of the medication
- is experiencing acute alcoholism or delirium tremens
- is experiencing acute asthma or other obstructive airway disease
- is experiencing acute respiratory depression
- has a blockage of the gastrointestinal tract, particularly paralytic ileus
- has a head injury, a brain tumour, or increased pressure inside the head or spinal cord
- has a medication regimen (current or completed in the last 14 days) that includes MAO inhibitors such as phenelzine or tranylcypromine
- has abnormal heart rhythms
- has convulsive (seizure) disorders
- has cor pulmonale
- has severe depression of the central nervous system (i.e., sedation)
- has suspected abdominal conditions which may require surgery
- blurred or double vision, or other changes in vision
- changes in sexual desire or activity
- constipation (common with long-term use)
- decrease in amount of urine
- difficult or painful urination
- dry mouth
- false sense of well-being
- frequent urge to urinate
- general feeling of discomfort or illness
- lightheadedness or feeling faint
- loss of appetite
- nausea or vomiting
- nervousness or restlessness
- stomach cramps or pain
- trouble sleeping
- unusual dreams
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- fast, slow, or pounding heartbeat
- feelings of unreality
- hives, itching, or skin rash
- increased sweating
- irregular breathing
- mental depression or mood changes
- swelling of face
- signs of overdose
- cold, clammy skin
- convulsions (seizures)
- dizziness (severe)
- drowsiness (severe)
- low blood pressure
- nervousness or restlessness (severe)
- pinpoint-sized pupils of eyes
- slow heartbeat
- slow or troubled breathing
- weakness (severe)
- signs of serious allergic reaction (e.g, abdominal cramps, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, or swelling of the face and throat)
- Addison's disease
- enlarged prostate (BPH)
- irregular heart rhythms
- low blood pressure
- narrowing of the urethra
- anticholinergic medications (e.g., atropine, benztropine, hyoscyamine, ipratropium)
- antihistamines that cause drowsiness (e.g., chlorpheniramine, dimenhydrinate, diphenhydramine)
- barbiturates (e.g., phenobarbital)
- benzodiazepines (e.g., alprazolam, diazepam, lorazepam)
- beta-blockers (e.g., atenolol, metoprolol, propranolol)
- chloral hydrate
- diuretics (water pills; e.g., furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide)
- MAO inhibitors (e.g., selegiline, procarbazine, tranylcypromine) taken within the past 14 days
- other narcotic analgesics (e.g., codeine, fentanyl, meperidine, oxymorphone)
- phenothiazines (e.g., chlorpromazine, promethazine, perphenazine)
- tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline, imipramine, nortriptyline)
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
Although most of these side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Abdominal (stomach) conditions: Morphine and other narcotic medications may make the diagnosis of abdominal conditions more difficult or it may worsen these conditions. If you have abdominal or stomach problems, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Asthma and other respiratory conditions: Morphine may cause increased breathing difficulty for people having an acute asthma attack or those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (chronic bronchitis, emphysema) or other conditions that affect breathing. If you have asthma or other breathing disorders, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Dependence and withdrawal: Drug addiction is usually not a problem for people who require this medication for pain relief. Physical dependence (a need to take regular doses to prevent physical symptoms) has been associated with narcotic analgesics such as morphine. Withdrawal symptoms may be experienced if the dose is significantly reduced or suddenly discontinued. These symptoms include seizures, irritability, sleep problems, agitation, tremors, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, headache, muscle cramps, extreme anxiety, tension, restlessness, sweating, and confusion. Reducing the dose gradually under medical supervision can help prevent or decrease these withdrawal symptoms when this medication is no longer required for pain control.
Drowsiness/reduced alertness: Morphine may impair the mental or physical abilities required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks such as driving a car or operating machinery. You should avoid such activities until you are certain this medication does not have this effect on you.
Head injury: Morphine can cause increased pressure inside the head. If you have an acute head injury or other conditions that increase your intracranial pressure (pressure inside the head), discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Kidney function: If you have reduced kidney function or kidney disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Liver function: If you have reduced liver function or liver disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Other medical conditions: Morphine may cause increased symptoms or reduce the symptoms of worsening illness for people with the following conditions:
If you have any of these conditions, you should discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Seizures: Morphine may worsen pre-existing seizure disorders. If tolerance to the medication develops and the dosage is increased substantially above recommended levels, seizures may occur in people without a history of seizure disorders. If you have a seizure disorder, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking morphine, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Seniors: Seniors may be more sensitive to the side effects of this medication and may require lower doses.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
There may be an interaction between morphine and any of the following:
If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.