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What Is The Difference Between Tramadol IR And Tramadol XRTramadol is a pain relief pill, which is employed in the treatment of severe to moderate pain. There are two types of pills which you can get in any online prescription drugstore. They are called as Tramadol immediate release and Tramadol extended release. Read on to understand the difference between these two formulations.

Release speed

The extended release version releases the drug into the body in a slow manner. The effect of the drug would stay in the system for 10-12 hours. In cases of immediate release, the drug stays in the system for 4-6 hours. This release speed dictates the dose limit. Usually, the XR is taken once a day and IR can be taken once every 8 hours.


Since XR stays in the system for long, the chances of overdosing or drug interactions are high. For instance, an alcoholic might drink alcohol while still having the substance in the body. The intensity of side effects will also be high when Tramadol XR interacts with certain drugs like cough syrup, a sleep medication.


In the case of extended release pill, the capsule is excreted but in the case of immediate release, the shell is not excreted. This does not mean that the medicine was not absorbed by the body. It just means that the working mechanism is slightly different.

Course length

Immediate release is used for those who want Tramadol for a short period of time. In the case of chronic pain or when a patient wants the drug around the clock, extended release is used.

Pediatric patient

Pediatric patients should not use an extended-release version of Tramadol. This is because the drug should not stay long in their system. In the case of using extended release, serious side effects would be experienced. Immediate release version can be used for children but only if they are older than four years.

Elderly patient

Senior citizens are not usually recommended to use extended release Tramadol, in most cases. In the case of using it, the dose will be very minimal, to avoid serious side effects. Immediate release tablets are given more often to senior citizens.

Renal and liver patients

Extended release Tramadol is not recommended for those with any problem in their liver or kidney. Any person with a life-threatening medical condition in brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidney or other parts of the body would not be given the extended release.

Side effects

The probability of incidence of side effects is very high in case of extended release since it remains in the system for long. Though there are side effects in immediate release, the probability of occurrence is comparatively low.

Scope of use

Due to its limitations in terms of time of action, dose limitation and others, not everyone can use extended release. Thus, it has a very small scope of use than the immediate release version of Tramadol.

Other than these, both the Tramadol versions are narcotic–like painkillers which are used for moderate to severe pain. Both of them have the same allergic symptoms, side effects, overdose symptoms, drug interaction and others. Both of them are not recommended for pregnant woman and lactating mothers. Though they have a lot of similarities, one should not interchange the drugs for any reason, without consulting a doctor. Switching from extended release to immediate release without consent from a doctor is poised with many health risks.

In short, Tramadol extended release is a stronger version of the drug that stays in the system for long. A part of the drug gets released immediately into the system and the rest would be released slowly. Thus, the effect of the drug can be seen for a longer time period. This type of drug is not suitable for many people. The immediate release is the normal tablet which gets absorbed by the body immediately. It would stay in the system for a couple of hours before being excreted.