How Tramadol and Codeine Can Lead to Breathing Issues in Children

Tramadol and codeine are opioid medications most commonly used to treat pain. Codeine is also sometimes found in cough and cold medicines.

While effective in adults, both medicines can deliver potentially fatal breathing problems in children. The problem here is that some kids and adults break tramadol and codeine down into their active forms quicker than most, which can lead to a spike in their opioid levels.

Mother who breastfeed while taking these medicines can unwittingly pass on unsafe levels of the opioids to their little ones through their breast milk. Those infants may have difficulty breastfeeding, become drowsy, or potentially experience serious breathing issues.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are doing their part to battle this problem by requiring codeine and tramadol labels to be strengthened so that parents are aware of the potential health issues their children may face.

Take Care when Giving Tramadol or Codeine to Children

The FDA recommends that children under the age of 12 should not be given pain or cough medications containing codeine or tramadol.

Tramadol has not been approved for use in children by the FDA. Children under the age of 18 should not take tramadol to ease the pain that follows procedures such as tonsil or adenoid removal. Codeine labels already contain warnings stating that the medication should not be used by children to treat pain from those procedures.

Kids aged 12 through 18 who are considered obese or who have obstructive sleep apnea or a weak respiratory system are advised not to take codeine or tramadol because of the potential breathing issues that may follow.

Tramadol is intended as a prescription pain medication for adults. Codeine come via prescription, but may also be available over the counter in some states.

You will often find that codeine is mixed with acetaminophen in prescription pain meds, and also with several different cold medicines when used as a cough treatment.

Codeine and Tramadol Alternatives

There are a number of different pain management alternatives that are safe for children. Your local pharmacist or doctor can help you find one that is suitable.

You also have the option of several different OTC medications for the treatment of cough in kids. It should be noted that the FDA does not believe that OTC cough and cold medicines are suitable for children under the age of 2. Colds generally go away on their own after a few days, so you also have the option of allowing your child to get better without the use of drugs.

Finding out if Codeine or Tramadol is on your Child’s Medication

The labels on medicines should clearly show if codeine or tramadol is present. You can also talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are still unsure.