The most common type of testing, urine testing, can typically detect tramadol use for up to four days after the last use. Hair testing can detect use for much longer, with ideal conditions allowing detection for up to 90 days.
Tramadol Effects: How Long Do They Last?
Tramadol is an opioid painkiller. A single dose is typically taken every four to six hours, as needed when used as prescribed. If taking extended-release tablets or capsules, these are typically taken once a day.
A user is likely to experience a sharp decline in any pain they’re feeling as well as a sense of euphoria. Less desirable side effects can potentially include sleepiness, headache, nervousness, unusual mood changes, uncontrollable shaking, heartburn, indigestion, and dry mouth.
If tramadol is misused, especially in high doses or in combination with other drugs that depress the nervous system, dangerous side effects are possible, including the potential for a life-threatening overdose. Misuse of tramadol or any other opioid has the potential to lead to addiction.
Tramadol Detection Timelines
There are a variety of ways to test for the presence of drugs, including urine testing, blood testing, saliva testing, and hair testing. Each test has a certain detection window associated with it, which is the length of time the test can generally be expected to detect the presence of a drug since a person last used it.
Note that these detection windows are estimates. Some drug use may be detected for a longer or shorter period depending on an individual’s specific circumstances.
The following are the detection windows when testing for the presence of tramadol or similar opioids:
- Urine: Up to four days
- Blood: Comparable to urine, usually quoted as a slightly shorter window
- Saliva: Up to 36 hours
- Hair: Up to 90 days
Hair testing is usually avoided when possible since it is considered more invasive than many other types of testing. It won’t detect recent drug use, as it takes time for enough hair growth to occur that a period of drug use can be detected. A person who gets regular haircuts might have a significantly reduced detection window through this type of testing, even if not actively trying to change how long their drug use can be detected.
Generally, urine testing is the preferred method of drug testing due to its ease of use and reliability.
Common Tests Used for Tramadol Detection
The following is a quick summary of what to expect from different drug tests:
Urine testing is the most common type of drug testing, and this is commonly used by employers and other organizations. A person urinates into a sample container and then gives it to a lab technician or similar professional. The urination is generally done in private except in especially strict scenarios.
A person has a small sample of blood drawn, which is then tested in a lab for the presence of specific drugs.
Saliva testing involves going to a lab and having a swab or pad put into your mouth for several minutes. This gives the material the necessary time to absorb enough saliva to get a good sample for testing. It should generally be a painless process, although some people may find the feeling of having material in their mouth for several minutes a bit unusual.
A hair test requires a relatively small amount of hair to be cut from the head, which will be done in a medical setting. You cannot bring a piece of your pre-cut hair to the test. While considered by many to be a fairly invasive form of drug testing, it should be a quick and painless process.
Tramadol’s half-life, which is approximately how long it takes for 50% of the drug to be eliminated from the body, isn’t well studied. However, what research does exist on the subject has suggested a half-life of about seven hours.
It typically takes four to five half-lives for more than 90% of a drug to be eliminated.
Factors That Affect How Long Tramadol Stays in Your Body
The exact length of time a drug stays in a person’s body depends on the individual and the amount and frequency at which they have taken it. The more one takes a drug and the longer they’ve been taking a drug, the longer it tends to be detectable in their system since their last use.
What also impacts how long a drug is likely to stay in a person’s system is their ability to metabolize drugs. This can be affected by a variety of factors. These are some of the most common:[6,7]
- Hormone function
- Health conditions, especially conditions that affect the liver and heart
- Tramadol. National Library of Medicine. Published May 15, 2023. Accessed September 6, 2023.
- Opioid Testing. Testing.com. Accessed August 6, 2023.
- Opioid Testing. MedlinePlus. Published December 15, 2020. Accessed September 6, 2023.
- Khosrojerdi H, Alipour Talesh G, Danaei GH, Shokooh Saremi S, Adab A, Afshari R. Tramadol half life is dose dependent in overdose. Daru. 2015 Feb 26;23(1):22. doi:10.1186/s40199-015-0104-y. PMID: 25888861; PMCID: PMC4348403
- Hallare J, Gerriets V. Half Life. StatPearls. 2023 Jan. Accessed September 6, 2023.
- Tolerance and Resistance to Drugs. Merck Manual. Published September, 2022. Accessed September 6, 2023.
- Pharmacokinetics. Association for Diagnostics & Laboratory Medicine. Published January 19, 2021. Accessed September 6, 2023.