What Is Ketamine Used For?

Ketamine is the generic name used for Ketalar, a prescription anesthetic used to put people to sleep before surgical procedures. But as for how ketamine works, it is still not clear. Experts are of the view that it works by affecting the limbic areas of the brain as well as special receptors in the cortex. This puts people into a near-hypnotic state. The good thing about ketamine is that unlike other drugs, it only dulls your senses.

What Is Ketamine Used For?

The most common use of ketamine is as anesthesia, but there are other uses too. Here is a bit more about it.

1. Use as Anesthesia

It is most commonly used as an anesthetic in children, but is an equally good choice for people with chronic obstructive airway disease and asthma. It is also used as a sedative for some of the most physically painful procedures in emergency rooms. In some cases, it is also used to supplement epidural or spinal anesthesia with low doses. It is usually among the most reliable anaesthetics in the absence of reliable ventilation equipment, but it is not the first choice because of the hallucinations it may cause.

2. Use as Painkiller

In some cases, it works well for postoperative pain management. With low doses of this drug, it is possible to reduce nausea and vomiting after a surgical procedure. It also helps manage intractable pain when used with opiates as an intravenous analgesic. Low-dose ketamine may also prove effective in the treatment of complex regional pain syndrome.

3. Use as Antidepressant

It has been tested in treatment-resistant major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and people with suicidal crisis. It is given in low doses intravenously to reduce certain symptoms associated with different disorders. It can start working with 2 hours of injection and its effect can relatively last for about 1-2 weeks.

4. Use As Recreational Drug

Many people use it as recreational drug because it is very short-acting and produces effects in about 10 minutes. Its hallucinogenic effects may last up to an hour when injected and up to a couple of hours when ingested orally. Although ketamine is used as recreational drug, it proves lethal in many cases. Deaths caused by its use are mainly due to drowning, accidental poisoning and traffic accidents.

Precautions Before Taking Ketamine

Knowing "What is ketamine used for?" is important, but you also need to know what precautionary measures to take before taking ketamine. Ketamine can cause mental disturbances, such as hallucinations, confusion, sudden delirium, and dream-like sensations. Therefore, you should not take it if you have certain existing medical conditions, such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, stroke, heart attack or congestive heart failure.

It is also a good idea to talk to your doctor about receiving ketamine if you are undergoing surgery and have issues such as poor liver function, increased pressure in the eye, any history of substance use, and high levels of thyroid hormones. You may not want to take it if you have just recovered from drug abuse or alcoholism.

Pregnancy and Ketamine

The FDA has not yet evaluated how safe ketamine is during pregnancy. Therefore, it is important to talk to your doctor about any risks of taking the drug. Inform your doctor about your intentions of becoming pregnant in near future. Tell them if you are pregnant or already breastfeeding.

Ketamine and Alcohol

What is ketamine used for? As anesthetic! What about alcohol? The same effect! So it is not a good idea to mix ketamine and alcohol because both dull the senses. If you drink alcohol before you receive ketamine for a surgical procedure, it can lead to certain complications as well.

Ketamine and Grapefruit Juice

Grapefruit interferes with your body's ability to break down ketamine. It means that drinking grapefruit juice may lead to an increase in the level of ketamine in the body. Therefore, you should avoid it or else ketamine levels can rise to a dangerous level.

In short, you do not mix ketamine with another intoxicating substance and understand that it can impair your reactions and thinking, so you should not drive or operate heavy machinery for at least 24 hours of receiving ketamine.

What Are the Side Effects of Taking Ketamine?

Like other drugs, ketamine can also produce several side effects. Knowing "What is ketamine used for?" will help you understand how to keep side effects under control. Mild side effects may include nausea, blurred vision, dream-like feeling, sleep problems and drowsiness. Ketamine can also cause an allergic reaction, so you should talk to your doctor immediately if you experience signs such as difficulty breathing, hives, and swelling of face, tongue, lips or throat.

Inform your doctor if you experience hallucinations, confusion, extreme fear, and unusual thoughts within 24 hours of receiving ketamine. Slow heart rate, feeling like you might pass out, burning sensations when you urinate, and jerky muscle movements are some other serious side effects that require an immediate visit to the hospital.

What If I Miss a Dose or Overdose?

There may be side effects associated with the use of ketamine, but you do not usually need to worry about miss a dose or overdose. The reason is that it is mostly used for anesthesia, so the chances are you are not on a dosing schedule. It means you do not have to worry about missing one. Similarly, there is no need to worry about an overdose because you will be receiving it in a medical setting under the supervision of a healthcare professional. They monitor your vital signs while administering ketamine, so there is no need to worry about anything. 

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