What Fentanyl Does To Your Body

Knowing what fentanyl does to your body and how fentanyl affects the body are extremely important topics of discussion right now, particularly as illicit fentanyl use is on the rise in the U.S., leading to overdoses and death.

First, we’ll discuss what fentanyl is intended for, regarding clinical uses, and then go into the details of what fentanyl does to your body.

What Fentanyl Does To Your Body
Fentanyl is an incredibly powerful opiate painkiller. In fact, it’s one of the strongest available, and it’s classified as a schedule II drug in the U.S. This means that there is a potential for abuse with fentanyl, and when a doctor is going to prescribe it, it has to be done so carefully, with prior patient screening. There are a few medical uses for fentanyl that are approved. The first, which is relatively rare, is as a drug to relieve surgical pain when people are having certain heart operations, or have poor heart function. It can also be prescribed for the treatment of severe pain relating to cancer. It’s well-suited for use in people who have around the clock pain opioid pain management for their cancer pain, but also experience breakthrough pain. It can also be used in patients with severe pain who are resistant to other opioids. There are time-release fentanyl products that can provide powerful pain relief over a more extended period of time. These are available as oral lollipops and as patches. There is also fentanyl that can be administered as a film that dissolves under the tongue, and in a hospital setting, it can be injected. What’s so important for people to realize is that abusing fentanyl is dangerous and often deadly. When it’s prescribed and given in a therapeutic setting, it’s done so very carefully and under strict supervision, based on rigid dosing guidelines.
What fentanyl does to your body and how fentanyl affects the body are directly related to the fact that it’s an opioid. It impacts the brain’s opioid receptors, which is how it’s able to change the way your body feels and experiences pain. When you take higher doses of fentanyl than what is therapeutically recommended, or you abuse the drug in any way, you may experience a rush of euphoria when it’s taken. What can also happen when you take fentanyl is that it creates a sense of extreme relaxation or drowsiness. So what fentanyl does to your body is based on the fact that it activates the opioid receptors. It decreases how pain messages are transmitted throughout the body in the spinal cord, and it also changes how messages from the central nervous system are relayed. It replicates the impact of natural opioids found in your body, in a much more profound way. Along with relieving pain, other ways how fentanyl affects the body includes slowing down breathing and the respiratory system. Some of the other ways how fentanyl affects the body, particularly when it’s being abused or used in a way other than what’s prescribed include:
  • Dizziness
  • Urine retention
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Itching or hives
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Headache
  • Vision problems
  • Depression
  • Bad dreams and hallucinations
  • Sleep problems sweating
  • Shaking
  • Swollen arms and legs
Along with considering what fentanyl does to your body in the short-term, what about the long-term? First and foremost, long-term use affects the body by creating addiction and dependence. When someone uses fentanyl for longer than they’re supposed to, or they abuse it, it quickly leads to tolerance. Tolerance is one of the primary ways how fentanyl affects the body. With tolerance, your body and brain become so used to the presence of fentanyl that you need higher doses to achieve the same effect or high. Then, if you don’t use fentanyl or stop suddenly, you experience withdrawal symptoms. This can lead to addiction and drug-seeking behaviors, and it is a common and dangerous long-term indicator of what fentanyl does to your body. The risk of this happening is somewhat reduced when fentanyl is taken at certain doses and in a controlled setting. When you have a tolerance to fentanyl and user larger doses, it can also lead to an overdose with symptoms including slowed respiration, coma or death. Of course, these aren’t the only things that show what fentanyl does to your body and how fentanyl affects the body, but they are some of the most significant and common.