What Is Belbuca Used For
Buprenorphine (Belbuca) is used to relieve severe pain in people who are expected to need pain medication around the clock for a long time and who cannot be treated with other medications. Buprenorphine (Belbuca) should not be used to treat pain that can be controlled by medication that is taken as needed.
Buprenorphine, also known by its brand name Belbuca, was originally developed in Germany. It may be prescribed only when doctors are certain there are no alternatives available. The drug has been shown to reduce the amount of heroin addicts using or injecting themselves. This is especially true for those addicted to prescription drugs such as morphine, oxycontin and vicodin.
Buprenorphine belongs to a class of drugs called opioids. Opioids affect how your brain processes signals from the nervous system. They act on receptors found in your brain’s cells. When an opioid binds to one of these opioid receptors, it blocks nerve impulses (neurotransmitters). In this way, opioids slow down or block the transmission of pain messages from the peripheral nerves to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), which reduces the perception of pain. This action allows patients taking opioids to experience analgesia — relief of pain without causing drowsiness or dizziness.
In addition to relieving pain, opioids have many effects on your body. Because they stimulate endorphins, opioids cause euphoria, relaxation, sleepiness, reduced anxiety and depression. But opioids have side effects. One common problem is constipation because they bind to opioid receptors in the walls of your intestines. Other problems include nausea, vomiting, itching, dry mouth, difficulty urinating, urinary retention, confusion, dizziness, lightheadedness, increased sensitivity to heat or cold, short-term memory loss, sedation, sweating, hallucinations, decreased sex drive, dependence, tolerance, and even overdose.
The most serious problem with opioids is addiction. Once you start taking opioids regularly, your brain gradually changes so that it craves them. Like alcoholics craving liquor, addicts crave their drug of choice. Without treatment, some addicts try to get opioids through illegal means, such as stealing narcotics from pharmacies or borrowing pills from friends or relatives. Even if you do not become addicted to opioids, they still alter your thinking and behavior. Some people become dependent upon them just trying them. Others take more than is medically necessary to feel good. And others steal them to sell illegally.
Because of these dangers, doctors usually prescribe alternative treatments instead of opioids for pain relief. Analgesic drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and aspirin control pain but don’t produce a high. Narcotic drugs like codeine and hydrocodone produce a “high” but can lead to addiction. Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen treat inflammation but don’t provide adequate pain relief.
Some patients find that opioids don’t work well enough for them. Or they want stronger pain relief. If this describes you, then buprenorphine could help.
How does buprenorphine work? How much does it cost? What are the risks? Read on to learn about what makes this drug different.
Mechanism of Action
Dosage Forms and Delivery
Interactions With Other Drugs
Buprenorphine Mechanism of Action
Like other opioids, buprenorphine affects your brain chemistry. Your brain interprets incoming sensations as painful stimuli and sends out pain messages via chemical messengers known as neurochemicals. Neurochemicals travel along specific pathways between neurons (nerve fibers) before reaching the brain. When buprenorphine attaches itself to opioid receptors embedded in the outer membranes of your brain’s neurons, it prevents neurochemical activity. This interrupts the flow of pain messages from the periphery to your consciousness.
Opioid drugs also activate another type of cell receptor called dopamine D2. Activating this kind of receptor causes feelings of pleasure and reward. So you don’t notice the pain you’re experiencing while under the influence of opioids. However, once you stop taking opioids, your brain will remember the pain. You will then seek ways to avoid future pain.
This effect explains why you often feel less pain when taking buprenorphine over longer periods of time than you would with immediate release forms. This form of buprenorphine is designed to give a quick rush of euphoric feeling that lasts for 15 minutes or so, followed by a milder euphoria that continues throughout the day. Immediate release buprenorphine is meant to relieve acute pain, such as after surgery, until the patient feels ready to return to normal activities. Long acting buprenorphine is used to relieve chronic pain, such as bone cancer pain, where the patient needs continuous relief.
Dosage Forms and Delivery
Doctors typically prescribe buprenorphine HCI, a salt formed by combining buprenorphine with hydrogen chloride. Buprenex injectable solution is also available. Both forms must be injected into a muscle. A doctor can choose either route based on his or her assessment of the patient’s condition. Patients taking oral tablets can self-administer buprenorphine powder.
Buprenorphine HCl requires special storage conditions. Its solution must be kept in a dark, airtight container at room temperature away from moisture and oxygen. Keep buprenorphine HCL away from children, whose bodies metabolize the drug differently. Never share or reuse any needles, syringes, or cotton balls provided by a pharmacist for administering the drug. Ask your pharmacist to explain all precautions you need to know about handling buprenorphine.
Most users report few side effects. Common ones are nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and allergic reactions. Headaches, dizziness, weakness, drowsiness, and unusual tiredness can occur occasionally. These symptoms go away when you stop taking buprenorphine. Rarely, someone might suffer breathing difficulties, hives, chest pains, or swelling of the lips or tongue. Call 911 right away if you suspect an allergy reaction or experience any sudden change in your health. Tell your doctor immediately if you see blood during bowel movements or urine. Blood pressure might drop too low while taking buprenorphine.
Withdrawal symptoms occur rarely when buprenorphine is taken correctly. Most involve headaches, fatigue, chills, nausea, and sore muscles. Mild flu-like symptoms might show up two weeks after stopping buprenorphine use. These last a week or two and disappear when you resume normal activities. Severe withdrawal symptoms require medical attention.
Interactions With Other Drugs
You shouldn’t drink alcoholic beverages while taking buprenorphine. Drinking alcohol speeds up the breakdown of buprenorphine in your body. Avoid taking grapefruit juice while taking buprenorphine. Grapefruit interferes with the effectiveness of both drugs. Taking corticosteroids, anticoagulants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or thioridazine while taking buprenorphine can increase the risk of complications. Talk to your doctor about whether you should take these types of medicines while taking buprenorphine. Also tell him or her if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Many prescription drugs interact with buprenorphine. Be sure to let your doctor know about all the medications you take. He or she will decide which medications can safely accompany buprenorphine.
Buprenorphine sometimes causes constipation. To prevent this, eat foods rich in fiber, exercise, limit fluids containing caffeine or sugar, and take stool softeners. Your doctor may prescribe laxatives for occasional use.
Other possible interactions include cimetidine, erythromycin, ketoconazole, nifedipine, clarithromycin, ritonavir, carbamazepine, phenytoin, primidone, quetiapine, amitriptyline, simvastatin, warfarin, clozapine, tamoxifen, methadone, levodopa, verapamil, and vincristine.
Buprenorphine offers significant benefits over existing methods to relieve pain. Learn about some of these benefits on the next page.
Pain relief can make life easier for people suffering from pain. Pain relief allows people to function normally and enjoy hobbies and recreational activities. Buprenorphine provides effective pain relief for moderate to severe pain.
It has several advantages over other painkillers. Unlike NSAIDS, buprenorphine doesn’t cause stomach bleeding. Unlike narcotic drugs, it doesn’t interfere with judgment or motor skills. Unlike Tylenol, buprenorphine doesn’t cause drowsiness. Unlike codeine or dextromoramide, buprenorphine doesn’t leave a person jittery and confused. Unlike methadone, it isn’t addictive.
However, buprenorphine does carry the same risks as other opioids. Users should be careful in hot environments and avoid driving while using the drug. It works best when combined with counseling.
Tell your doctor about any allergies you have had before starting buprenorphine therapy. If you develop a rash, fever, hives, red eyes, swollen gums, hoarseness, tingling
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