Tramadol Side Effects

Tramadol is a prescription drug used for the treatment of mild to moderate pain. Tramadol brand names include ConZip, Ryzolt and Ultram. Along with immediate-release tramadol for acute pain, the medication is also available in an extended-release version used primarily for chronic pain. Tramadol is a synthetic opioid that affects the central nervous system. Tramadol side effects can range from mild to severe, so it’s important to be aware of these effects when using this medication.

Immediate Effects of Tramadol Use

When someone uses tramadol, it crosses the blood-brain barrier where it then activates opioid receptors. As opioid receptors activate, there is a change in how someone senses pain. Tramadol, as with other opioids, doesn’t alleviate the pain, but it prevents a person from feeling it in the same they did before taking the medication.

Tramadol slows the central nervous system, and many of the immediate effects of tramadol use reflect this depressant effect. Possible tramadol effects that can occur immediately or in the short-term include:

  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling sad or empty
  • Feeling cold
  • Discomfort
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Skin rash or itching skin
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Weakness
  • Muscle aches
  • Reddening of the skin
  • Runny nose
  • Drowsiness
  • Sore throat
  • Problems concentrating

Some people can experience euphoria or pleasant feelings of relaxation when they use tramadol, especially in high doses.

Long-Term Side Effects of Tramadol

Two of the most serious long-term side effects of tramadol use are addiction and dependence. Addiction forms when a reward response occurs in the brain due to the use of tramadol. The more someone uses tramadol, or the higher the dose they use, the more likely an addiction is to form.

Dependence occurs as the brain adjusts to the presence of tramadol. Neurotransmitter functionality alters in response to tramadol’s effects. When this happens, if someone stops using tramadol they are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. Tramadol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle pain
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures

Other possible longer-term side effects of tramadol which are rare but possible include:

  • Increased risk of seizures
  • Respiratory depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Changes in behavior

Tramadol can also cause an overdose if an addiction develops. If an overdose is suspected immediately call 911 for emergency medical assistance.

Tramadol Side Effects in Men

While most tramadol side effects in men are the same as side effects for women, there is the potential for opioids to cause sexual dysfunction in men. When someone uses tramadol or other opioids for long periods, it affects the endocrine glands, which are responsible for producing hormones.

Ongoing tramadol use can cause adrenal insufficiency, which means that it impedes a person’s ability to make enough of certain hormones. Testosterone can especially be affected.

Long-term tramadol side effects in men can include loss of libido and sexual enjoyment, as well as impotence and a reduced interest in sex.

Tramadol Side Effects in Women

Tramadol side effects in women include problems with sexual health as well.  Women who use tramadol, particularly when used long-term, may experience changed attitudes toward sex and loss of interest in sex. Long-term opioid use can also affect fertility.

If you or a loved one live with tramadol addiction, contact The Recovery Village to speak to a representative who can help get you started on the path to recovery. Don’t put your future on hold, you deserve a healthier tomorrow. Call today.


Durbin, K. MD. “Tramadol.”, December 29, 2018. Accessed March 19, 2019.

Railton, D. “Sexual Dysfunction and Long-Term Opioid Use.” Healthline, January 22, 2019. Accessed March 19, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer: Orlando Recovery Center aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.