|Type of medicine||Strong opioid analgesic|
|Used for||Pain relief|
|Also called||Diamorphine hydrochloride|
|Available as||Tablets and injection|
Diamorphine is used to treat severe pain. It can be used for pain caused by cancer, and for easing pain before, during and after an operation. It may also be used following a heart attack, or for breathlessness caused by fluid in the lungs.
It works on the nerves and brain to reduce the amount of pain you feel.
Before taking diamorphine
Before taking diamorphine make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- If you have liver, kidney or prostate problems.
- If you have breathing problems, such as asthma.
- If you have low blood pressure.
- If you have thyroid problems.
- If you suffer from convulsions.
- If you have a problem in your bile duct.
- If you have severe diarrhoea, or have been constipated for more than a week, or have an inflammatory bowel problem.
- If you have phaeochromocytoma or any other adrenal gland problem.
- If you have myasthenia gravis (a muscle weakness disorder).
- If you have recently suffered a serious head injury.
- If you have ever had a problem with drug addiction.
- If you have toxic psychosis (a mental health problem).
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
- If you are taking any other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
How to take diamorphine
- Diamorphine is usually given as an injection by your nurse or doctor.
- Depending on the reason that you are taking diamorphine, your doctor may give you a second painkiller to take when you need.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Do not drink alcohol with diamorphine as this will increase the side-effects of dizziness and drowsiness.
- Taking diamorphine regularly for a long time can lead to your body becoming dependent on it, which might cause you to feel restless and irritable when you stop taking it. If you are concerned about this, discuss the problem with your doctor or pharmacist.
- If you are planning a trip abroad you are advised to carry a letter with you from your doctor because diamorphine is a controlled drug. If you plan to travel for more than 3 months, you must check with the Home Office before you travel as you will need to apply in writing for a licence to take diamorphine with you.
- If you are having any treatment like an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking diamorphine.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with diamorphine.
Can diamorphine cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, all medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common side-effects||What can I do if I experience this|
|Feeling or being sick||This usually passes as your body begins to adjust, but let your doctor know if it continues. Your doctor may prescribe a medicine to ease the sickness|
|Constipation||Try to eat a well balanced diet containing plenty of fibre and drink 6-8 glasses of water each day. If this continues your doctor may prescribe a laxative for you|
|Dizziness, particularly when getting up from a sitting or lying position||Getting up slowly should help|
|Dry mouth||Try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets. If this becomes troublesome speak with your pharmacist or doctor|
|Drowsiness, difficulties with vision||Do not drive or do things which would be dangerous when you are not fully alert or able to see clearly|
|Other common side-effects include: stiffness, palpitations, swollen legs or ankles, mood changes, confusion, disturbed sleep, headache, sexual difficulties, difficulty passing urine, sweating, rash, and itching||If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store diamorphine
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 60th Edition (September 2010) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Diamorphine Hydrochloride Injection BP 5mg, 10mg and 30mg, Auralis Ltd, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated March 2009.
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen|
|Last Checked: 26/01/2011||Document ID: 3384 Version: 23||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.