What Is a Morphine Patch?

Morphine is derived from the opium poppy.
Many patients prefer a morphine patch to injections.
Article Details
  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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A morphine patch, also referred to as a fentanyl patch, may be prescribed for patients who experience chronic severe pain. This patch has an adhesive on one side so that it can be applied directly to the skin, where the medication then enters the body. Long-term or improper use of the morphine patch may lead to dependence, making it vitally important to only use this method of pain control as directed by the prescribing physician. Patients with certain medical conditions, such as asthma, heart problems, or liver or kidney disease, may not be able to use this type of medication. Some potential side effects of morphine patch usage include skin irritation at the application site, dizziness, headache, or gastrointestinal disturbances.

It is important to use the morphine patch immediately after removing it from its protective packaging in order to avoid the possibility of contamination. The adhesive portion of the patch should be applied firmly to the skin, preferably on the back or chest. In most cases, this patch is worn for 72 hours before being removed and replaced with a new patch. When changing the morphine patch, the new one should be placed on a different area of skin than the used one. Mild skin irritation at the application site is common, but a doctor should be notified if this irritation becomes severe or bothersome.

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Dizziness and drowsiness are among the most common side effects of using morphine. Extreme caution should be used when performing any activity which requires intense focus, coordination, or concentration. Some patients may experience gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea, constipation, or diarrhea. These side effects are usually mild, although any severe or persistent symptoms should be reported to a doctor for further evaluation.

Severe side effects associated with the use of the morphine patch are relatively uncommon, although they should be reported to a doctor right away if they do occur. Some of these side effects include difficulty breathing, chest pain, memory loss, or the development of seizures. A severe allergic reaction may occur in some people, even if this medication has been well-tolerated in the past. Some symptoms of this potentially life-threatening complication include itching, rash, hives, or swelling of the face and throat, often leading to severe breathing difficulty. Any questions or concerns about the use of the morphine patch or possible side effects should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

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