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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Morphine

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Any Connection Between Morphine & Seizures [posted 10/21/98]
Question: My grandmother had knee surgery and came through fine. She was awake and had eaten her first meal. Her pain got worse so she was given morphine through a machine that she could push when she needed to. She had some kind of reaction to the morphine and suffered a major seizure which in the end killed her. My question is how is this common for morphine to do this or was it caused from an overdoes?

Answer: Very uncommon if the machine was set up correctly. Seizures per se on morphine would be very rare.

When to Take Morphine [posted 10/13/98]
Question: I'm taking morphine for pain relief, as prescribed by my physician. Does it matter if I take it with meals or on an empty stomach?

Answer: Often causes nausea on an empty stomach;but absorbed a little better. Often what you GI tract will tolerate.

Morphine [posted 10/9/98]
Question: I recently had back surgery and had morphine. How long does this last in the system and will it keep other related problems with neck and back pain free for along period of time? I also had three nerve blocks, cervical, thurasic, and the lumbar areas.

Answer: How long does the morphine last? Usually no longer than 12 hours of analgesia.

Morphine [posted 7/30/98]
Question: my mother has guillian barre syndrome and was given morphine for pain. She started see things ad morphine was stopped, but hallucinations are still there 3 days later. Is this normal and for how long?

Answer: Probably not the morphine if it persists 3 days. Morphine is generally cleared within 12 hours. She probably has an underlying problem that the morphine exacerbated.

Morphine [posted 7/16/98]
Question: My stepson is receiving morphine for the pain of cancer that has metastasized to his hip bone and spine. He is asleep most of the time. Often, he is incoherent. Even when alert, he drifts back and forth from being coherent and delirious (for lack of a better term). He is aware that he is having this experience and described it as being like very vivid dreams while awake. Can you explain the physiology causing this? Is it neurons misfiring due to death or injury to brain cells? Is it likely caused by the morphine or the disease? Also, is there any data on how long he is likely to live like this?

Answer: This is the morphine unless the cancer has spread to his brain, which is doubtful. It is due to the interaction of the morphine on different neuro receptors in the brain and does not predispose to death other than by overdose of the morphine. In general, we try to achieve analgesia without this type of effect, I would have his physician look at his doses again.

Question: I am a high school student studying anatomy/physiology and I need some help. We are studying teratogenesis and my project is to research the effects of morphine on a fetus. If a mother is addicted to morphine and is pregnant, what affects will the morphine have on the fetus, and are there any teratogenic affects on it?

Answer: There does not appear to be any special teratogenetic effect of morphine. The fetus will become addicted and will have their breathing suppressed at birth if morphine is present. However, no specific studies have been done. However, there is much experience with addicted mothers and there really doesn't appear to be much problem, except addition of the child. Long term studies are currently underway to follow development, but they are not completed.

Question: How long does liquid morphine last? As the years go by does it loose it's potency or get stronger?

Answer: As with any medication, check the imprinted "use by" or "use before" date on the bottle itself or on the box in which the bottle was packaged. Morphine, like any medication can lose its medicinal effect if stored and not used for a prolonged time. For specifics of how long medications can last you should call the manufacturing pharmaceutical company of your particular medication. If you are in doubt as to the age of any medication prescription you may have, do not use it. Rather, discard the medication and see your doctor for a new prescription. That way both you and your physician know you are getting the full expected benefits from the medication you are taking.

General Information
Question: This is an extremely important question for a sick friend. What does the drug morphine consist of? Please get back to me as soon as you get this.

Answer: Morphine is derived from opium and is one of the alkaloids, phenanthrene class to be exact. This drug can be synthesized; but, is very difficult and expensive. Many modifications have been synthesized, codeine, etc. from the basic structure. It obtains its major effect by its ability to bind to receptors in the CNS and the bowel.
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