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Abstral® is a strong opioid painkiller that is put under the tongue. It dissolves and works very quickly. It is used to treat the kind of moderate to severe pain that comes on suddenly without warning or is brought on by movement or something like changing a dressing. This kind of pain usually lasts for a short time so a painkiller like fentanyl can help. If you know what brings your pain on, you can use the tablet in advance to prevent pain.
Fentanyl tablets are used to help manage pain that comes on suddenly in people who are already taking a regular strong pain killer to control their pain.
The fentanyl tablet will work best if you take it as soon as the pain starts to come on or just before you do something that gives you pain.
The dose prescribed by your doctor depends on your pain. You may be started on 1 or 2 tablets of the lowest dose of fentanyl tablet for an attack of pain. The dose can be increased if your doctor or nurse decides this will help.
Your doctor or nurse will explain how to use the fentanyl tablets and when to take them. This will depend on your pain. The fentanyl tablet will work best if you take it as soon as the pain starts to come on or just before you do something that gives you pain.
Some people only need to use the fentanyl tablet occasionally. Others may need to use it more often. It is important to follow the advice given by your doctor or nurse.
Fentanyl passes quickly through the moist skin in the mouth into the blood stream. Most people get pain relief within 5 to 10 minutes and the effect lasts for about 30 to 60 minutes.
Although a fentanyl tablet is a very good pain killer, it is not helpful for all types of pain. Other treatments may be suggested by your doctor or nurse. Your doctor will give you another short acting pain killer that you can take if the fentanyl tablet does not control your pain or you need to wait before it is safe to take another dose of the fentanyl tablet.
If you need to use the fentanyl tablets much more often than usual or they are not working, ask your doctor or nurse for advice.
Some people feel unwell in one or more of these ways:
We advise you not to drive after taking fentanyl tablets as they work quickly and are likely to make you feel drowsy.
Fentanyl tablets can make you drowsy so you should not take alcohol when you are using this medicine.
It is not dangerous to swallow the tablet, but it will not work so well for your pain.
Fentanyl tablets will normally be used along with other medicines, especially other pain killers. Please make sure that you tell any doctor, nurse or pharmacist who is caring for you that you are using fentanyl tablets. Do not drink grapefruit juice while you are using fentanyl tablets; it can increase the risk of side effects.
Yes. A specialist doctor or nurse will usually suggest that you try fentanyl tablets for your pain. Information will be sent to your GP and pharmacist so that the medicine can be prescribed and ordered for you.
The fentanyl tablets contain a strong pain killer and must be stored at room temperature and kept safely out of the reach of children.
Any tablets that are not used should be taken back to the pharmacy. Discuss this leaflet with your doctor or nurse who can answer any questions you have and who will tell you who to contact if you have problems using the fentanyl tablets.
If you have any questions about your fentanyl or other medicines, please ask your community nurse, GP or community palliative care nurse, if you have one.
Created by Simon Matthews August 2013. Approved by DTC: October 2013. Adapted for local use from the NHS Lothian ‘fentanyl sublingual tablets’ (Jan 2012)’ leaflet.
This information is intended for patients receiving care in Brighton & Hove or Haywards Heath.
The information here is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.
Publication Date: October 2021
Review Date: July 2024