People with mesothelioma sometimes experience pain and we currently have various new types of medications that can reduce the degree of pain that a person experiences.
The Types of Pain
Pain is classified as acute which means that it comes on suddenly and ends in a short period or chronic pain that lasts for months or even years and requires adequate management as changes in doses and types of medications might prove critical.
How You Will Take Pain Medication
If your pain is connected to a surgical procedure, you will continue taking your pain medication according to the terms of a prescription unless it either has resolved or become more tolerable. If you encounter a new wave of pain or pain in a new body location, you will need to arrange for a new appointment with your physician to distinguish the source of your pain and locate a method of addressing it. Some pain medications are given orally, through patches that are placed on the skin, intravenously, rectally, or injections administered into the spinal fluid, skin, or nerves. These are just several methods that can be utilized to combat your pain. If pain is restricted to a certain area that can be irradiated to therapy to the specific pain location. This can prove advantageous in certain situations.
Patients can encounter nerve-associated pain, which is sometimes described as either burning or shooting pain and can be the result of nerve injury caused by cancer as well as surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation.
What Types of Pain Medication Are Used
Some distinct classes of medications have been determined to be more powerful in controlling certain types of pain. Many times, patients have been prescribed a mixture of pain medication if the pain is multifactorial. In these cases, it’s often a wise idea to arrange to meet with your medical team to discuss your pain management. This will make sure that you receive the full attention of your medical team in correcting this problem. Maintain a pain diary that lists the type, location, and extent of pain that you are facing. Additionally, make sure to record which medications you take as well as how much and for how long.
The Advantage of Pain Medication
Receiving prescribed pain pills can help you regain control of your life and resume more enjoyable activities. If your pain is not properly managed, you might experience a range of negative emotions including fatigue, depression, personality changes, and difficulty adhering to your daily schedule. Some people even end up withdrawing from activities they once enjoyed.
Some people abstain from taking medications because they have concerns about addictions or believe that others will view less of them when they are taking pain medication. These beliefs, however, are based on outdated social norms.
The Value of Pain Treatment
Many medical professionals refer to pain as the fifth vital sign and your medical team has received an education about what is necessary to assess pain and intervene when necessary. Many people discover that the sensation of pain changes throughout the illness and that people require adjustments to their pain medication to keep it manageable. Sometimes, you might be able to stop taking or reduce how much pain medication you take if your pain is addressed by one or a combination of treatments that you receive in managing mesothelioma.
You Can Play a Role in Addressing Your Pain
You can play a critical role in controlling your pain by communicating your emotions and pain sensation to your medical providers. Combatting pain promptly is more effective than waiting until it grows in severity. Additionally, remember that no need exists for you to experience any pain for any duration of time. One of the most important parts of combating cancer is addressing pain. Most medical facilities have pain centers that specialize in the treatment of pain and your medical provider might arrange appointments for you to meet with these professionals.
The Goal of Pain Programs
Pain sometimes cannot be controlled with medications and other treatments including nerve blocks to stop pain due to nerve surgery, compression, or radiation can be utilized to reduce the size of a tumor. The primary goal of any plan to treat pain is to control pain with the greatest amount of relief and the least possible side effects. Your medical provider will work together with you to determine the best method for treating your pain requirements. The primary complication of most pain medications because they are often some type of narcotic agent is drowsiness to the point of confusion, nausea, or constipation. Fortunately, these issues can be either resolved or avoided. Growing addicted to pain medication is not an issue in people with cancer because you will likely be able to stop these medications after your initial pain is resolved.
Opioids and Cancer Pain
Opioids are used with or without the addition of other opioids to treat anywhere from moderate to severe pain. Opioids are often a critical method of relieving cancer patients’ pain. These medications are similar to natural substances that are created by the body to address pain. While opioid medications were once created from the opium poppy, they are currently produced in a laboratory.
Medical professionals sometimes prescribe opioids for patients encountering increased or more severe pain from cancer and/or treatments. Opioids should be prescribed and used with a great deal of caution for several reasons. Some of the reasons why parties should remain cautious when taking opioids include:
- Some pain medications interact with other medications
- Some pain medications impact people differently. Due to this, some opioids cannot be given to people who are older, younger, or being treated for certain medical conditions.
- Growing concerns exist about what is referred to as the “opioid epidemic” in the United States. Opioids can be safely prescribed and utilized to control pain from mesothelioma and other types of cancer, though.
Your cancer treatment team will appreciate any worries you have about opioids. The team will also know that it’s their responsibility to treat cancer-related pain most effectively.
Due to safety concerns, you always require a signed, written prescription for opioid pain medications. This means that these documents cannot be emailed, faxed, or call in. As a result, it’s critical that only one physician prescribe your pain medications. If you have two or more doctors prescribing these medications, make sure that one does not prescribe opioids for you without first conversing with the other.
Your physician might address questions asked by you and your loved ones before prescribing any type of opioid to make sure that they will not be used dangerously. The person prescribing the medication might ask who lives with you, if children reside at home, how the medication is stored, and any additional questions. Physicians will also monitor you cautiously and adjust pain medication dosage to make sure that you do not end up taking too much. If you are taking opioids, you will likely need to participate in routine blood or urine tests.
If you take alcohol or tranquilizers of any kind, your physician must know how much and how routinely you do this. Taking opioids while consuming alcohol or tranquilizers might result in problems and can result in overdoses as well as other symptoms including confusion, weakness, or trouble breathing.
If you take opioids to reduce pain caused by cancer, some of the critical tips that you should remember to follow include:
- Avoid sharing the medication with anyone
- Make sure that your medication is safely stored in a locked container
- Only take the medication as prescribed
Some of the most common types of opioids that are used in the treatment of pain caused by cancer include:
The name, “ER”, besides medication represents “extended releases” and suggests that the medication be taken on a routine schedule to address chronic pain. “IR” represents immediate releases and means that the drug works in a short period. Opioids of this kind are used to combat breakthrough pain. Some examples of these types of medications. A short-acting opioid that relieves breakthrough pain is routinely utilized with a long-acting opioid.
In many cases, the same type of opioid is utilized to treat both chronic and breakthrough pain. The medication must be prescribed in 2 types of pill forms, one with only opioids in it and one medication that combines opioids with non-opioids.
If you feel that an opioid is not helping to address your pain, you should talk with your physician. When a medication does not give the necessary pain relief, your physician might prescribe a higher dose or tell you to take the medication more often. When your medication team is working more closely with you, combinations of strong opioids can be raised safely to remove serious pain. Avoid choosing to take more pain medication on your own. If revising the dosage does not work, your medical team might prescribe a different type of drug or a new drug instead of the one you are taking.
If your method of combating pain is not long-lasting enough, you should ask your medical provider about extended-release options that come in either pill or patch form. These medications can combat your pain for a longer time. If your pain is capable of being controlled most of the time, people sometimes experience breakthrough pain and a medical provider might prescribe a fast-acting opioid that provides quick pain relief.
You might discover over time that you require a bigger dose of pain medication. This might be because the pain has increased or because you have developed a drug tolerance. When your body grows used to the opioid that you are taking and it takes more medication to reduce the pain as effectively as the medication did. Many people do not develop opioid tolerance. If you do end up developing drug tolerance, usually small increases in dosage or a change in the type of medication will help to combat pain. Increasing your opioid dosage to relieve increasing pain or overcome drug tolerance does not mean that a person is addicted.
Not all people have side effects from opioids. The most common side effects of opioids are loss of sleep, nausea, constipation, and vomiting. Some people experience additional symptoms like itching, dizziness, mental effects, or slow breathing.
Many side effects known to result from opioid medications can be prevented. Some of the mild medications including itchiness or drowsiness often disappear without treatment after a few days. Let your physician know if you encounter any side effects and request assistance in managing them. Some of the most common side effects known to be caused by opioids include:
- Drowsiness or sleepiness. When you start taking opioids, the medications might first make you sleepy. This often goes away after several days. If your pain has kept you from sleeping, you might sleep more for the days after you initially start taking opioids while “catching up” on your sleep. You also will encounter fewer sleep issues as your body adapts to having the medication in your system. Contact your medical team if you feel too sleep for your routine activities after you have been taking the medication for a week. Sometimes, it is unsafe for you to drive a vehicle or even walk long distances on your own. Avoid anything that requires you to be alert until you fully appreciate how the medicine impacts you. Some of the best ways to handle sleepiness include waiting several days to see if it goes away, checking to see if other medications you are taking can also result in sleepiness, asking your medical provider if you can take a small dose, ask your medical provider what you can do to get better pain relief and ask about changing to different medicines.
- Opioids result in constipation in most individuals, but , fortunately, can often either be prevented or controlled. Opioids reduce the movement of stool through a person’s intestinal tract, which permits more time for water to be absorbed by the body. Stool subsequently becomes hard. When you begin taking opioids, you should also take a laxative, stool softener, or other type of treatment to make sure that your stools remain soft and your bowels remain moving.
- Nausea and vomiting. Vomiting and nausea caused by opioids often pass away after several takes of taking opioids. Some people think that they are allergic if they have nausea after taking an opioid. Both nausea and vomiting are not allergic reactions. Itching in addition to nausea and vomiting might be an allergic reaction. In these cases, you should stop taking medication and contact your medical team promptly. If you have swelling in your throat, hives, or difficulty breathing, you should promptly get help.
Situations When You No Longer Need Opioids
No one should suddenly stop taking opioids. People who either need or want to stop taking opioids often taper off the medication slowly so that a person’s body has sufficient time to adapt to it. If you stop taking opioids suddenly and end up developing flu-like conditions, sweating, diarrhea, or other serious reactions, you should tell your medical provider. These symptoms can be treated by your medical provider, but fortunately these symptoms tend to go away after several days or weeks. Slowly lowering your opioid dosage over time often keeps these symptoms from occurring. Check with your medical provider about the best method to taper off pain medications.
Other Pain Medication Options Besides Pain Relievers
Some other medication choices are enough to address mild to moderate pain. Many of these options are available over the counter instead of through a prescription. Besides opioids, some of the other options that people utilize to treat pain include:
- In regular amounts, acetaminophen is often safe. Bigger doses over extended time frames can result in liver damage. Taking these medications with alcohol can also harm a person’s liver. If you have been diagnosed with liver disease, you should speak with your medical team before you take acetaminophen.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories including ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen help to reduce inflammation in addition to treat pain. Side effects of these medications include ulcers and stomach problems, particularly if you either drink alcohol or smoke. People who take NSAIDs are at risk of kidney damage and increased blood pressure. Over time, NSAIDs can end up raising a person’s chance of having a stroke or experiencing a heart attack.
- For people having pain associated with surgery as well as some people with chronic pain issues, temporary nerve blocks can offer short-term relief. During these procedures, a medical team places a local anesthetic either into or around nerves or below the skin in the area where a person experiences pain. The anesthetic interrupts how pain signals are transmitted to pain and can provide several hours of relief. During nerve block procedures, a medical team places a substance into a nerve or spinal fluid that destroys the nerve tissue in the pain pathway.