What is the role of opioid analgesics in the etiology of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)?

Updated: Sep 12, 2019
  • Author: Osama Hamdy, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Answer

A study by Fournier and colleagues indicates that treatment for pain with the opioid analgesic tramadol increases a patient’s risk of being hospitalized for hypoglycemia. Information from the United Kingdom Clinical Practice Research Datalink and the Hospital Episode Statistics database was analyzed for 28,110 patients who were newly prescribed tramadol and 305,924 individuals who were newly prescribed codeine, all for noncancer pain, with 11,019 controls also included in the study. Using case-control, cohort, and case-crossover analysis, the investigators found that tramadol increased the risk of hospitalization for hypoglycemia by more than three-fold, with the risk particularly elevated in the first 30 days of treatment. The actual risk was small, however, occurring in about 7 patients per 10,000 annually. [4, 5]


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