Ketamine (Injection)

Used for pain relief and sedation, Ketamine is usually given via injection before medical procedures.


Ketamine, commonly sold as Ketalar, is given by doctors and surgeons for pain relief. It is usually given as an injection before surgery, and it may be administered throughout the procedure to maintain unconsciousness. Because of its high rate of addiction, Ketamine is not usually given as a take-home painkiller. Drugs used during aftercare usually include less-addictive ingredients. If you have been given Ketamine as an oral/take-home medication, look for the specific guidelines for that drug.

Dosages for Ketamine can vary from person to person. They are usually determined by weight, age, and how they react to the first dose. Those who have a natural tolerance to the drug may require a higher dose. Overdose is uncommon during medical procedures, and the drug is carefully controlled. The drug will likely be given via injection by a doctor or nurse.

Ketamine may cause unusual side effects in those who are susceptible to the drug. Side effects can include confusion, memory loss, and hallucinations. Patients who take Ketamine may feel like they are not actually 'there'. These side effects are normal, and are mostly harmless. If they persist for longer than 24 hours, contact your doctor or ask for assistance. It is recommended that those being given Ketamine should have a friend or family member there to accompany them and drive them home.

Conditions Treated

  • Pain during surgery
  • Consciousness during surgery

Type Of Medication

  • General anesthetic

Side Effects

Ketamine can cause a number of effects, including the intended sedation and pain-relief. Experiences can vary from patient to patient, and you may react differently the more times you are given this drug. Most side effects are normal and do not require medical attention. If you experience anything unusual or troubling while taking this drug, contact your doctor or get medical help. If your side effects persist longer than 24 hours, talk to your doctor.

Common side effects of Ketamine can include:

  • Dream-like state
  • Sleepiness or drowsiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Double vision
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Flushing and/or warm skin

Some side effects may be a sign that Ketamine is not right for you. If these side effects occur, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

  • Severe discomfort
  • Coughing
  • Convulsions/seizures
  • Confusion about identity or time
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Blue lips/skin
  • Sweating
  • Difficult/painful/frequent urination

Allergies may occur while taking Ketamine. If you have never taken Ketamine before, be sure to monitor yourself for allergy symptoms. Allergies can quickly become a severe problem, so be sure to mention anything troubling to your doctor. If you are worried that you might not be aware enough to notice anything strange, tell your doctor you are a first-time taker, or bring a friend/family member along to monitor you.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Swelling of the face/tongue/lips
  • Closing of the airways
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Severe pain, itching, and swelling at the injection site.
  • Tightness of the chest

You may also experience unusual psychological effects while taking Ketamine. These side effects differ from the others because they change from person to person. While taking Ketamine, you may also experience hallucinations (seeing, feeling, or hearing things that are not there), confusion and excitement, and delusional thinking (refusing to accept fact and reason). These side effects are not harmful, and you might not remember experiencing them after the drug wears off. If these symptoms persist longer than 24 hours after your Ketamine injection, tell your doctor.


The dosage for Ketamine can vary from patient to patient. Tolerance, weight, and metabolism may affect how your body processes this drug. Some people may process it very quickly and require more, while others may be susceptible to its effects. If you have never taken Ketamine before, your doctor may start you on a small dose and see how you react. Your doctor will monitor you closely while administering Ketamine. If you show signs of adverse reaction or allergy, they will stop the treatment.

This drug is given as a shot into a vein or muscle. In some cases, it may be given slowly through an IV. Once you are properly medicated, they will begin the procedure. If the surgery takes a long time, you may be given Ketamine several times to maintain unconsciousness. After the surgery, they will wait for the drug to wear off before starting you on aftercare medications.


Ketamine may interact with drugs you have taken recently, are currently taking, or will take after your treatment. These interactions can vary between mild to severe, but you should avoid them if possible. Keep a list of all your medications, and present it to your doctor before your treatment. This will help them select a suitable painkiller/sedative before your surgery. Your doctor may ask you to stop or switch medications before your surgery to avoid interactions. While unpleasant, you should be able to start taking your medications after you have recovered.

Interactions to Ketamine can include:

  • Over the counter painkillers like aspirin or acetaminophen
  • Other narcotics
  • Sleeping medications
  • Anxiety medications
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Seizure medications
  • Other CNS depressants
  • MAO inhibitors (Do not take any MAO inhibitors for 14 days until surgery.)
  • Morphine
  • St. John's Wort

This list is not exhaustive. Make sure to speak to your doctor before being administered this medication, and tell them about any and all medications you are taking. This includes over the counter drugs and herbal remedies. If you have a history of addiction or drug abuse, mention this to your doctor as well. Your doctor has your safety in mind, so be sure to work with them to find a safe treatment plan.


This drug comes with warnings and risks, and you should be aware of them before being given any Ketamine injections. Your doctor may give you a pamphlet or website to read, and make sure you go over all the given information. If you do not understand something, ask a doctor or nurse to explain it to you.

Tell your doctor if you have brain disease, heart disease, or any other conditions that might affect your treatment. If you have respiratory depression, you may require a lower dose of this drug or a different medication entirely. Because Ketamine slows your breathing, those with already-lowered breathing may experience exacerbated effects. If you have untreated hypertension or severe hypertension, do not take Ketamine. Your doctor may choose a different drug for your treatment.

You may experience delusions or hallucinations while taking Ketamine. This is mostly normal, and you may not remember them when you wake up. You may feel confused, excited, or like you're in a dream. This should wear off within a few hours, but tell your doctor if you still feel strange. You may need someone to drive you home after your injection. Have a friend or family member on-call to take you home, or ask for a taxi. Do not attempt to drive yourself home while you are still under the influence of this drug.


Because Ketamine is given to you by trained medical staff, you do not need to store this drug within your home. The doctors and nurses will store, prepare, and administer this medication. If you have questions about how this drug is handled, talk to your doctor.


Because of the nature of this drug, it is advised that you speak to your doctor before taking it. Ketamine can be a powerful sedative and painkiller, so try and keep track of which drugs you react best to. If you've had bad experiences on other painkillers and sedatives, Ketamine might be the drug that works for you. Only take Ketamine injections under the supervision of your doctor, and do not use this drug recreationally. Ketamine has a high rate of addiction, so always be aware of what you are taking and how you are taking it.

If you have a history of narcotics abuse or addiction, mention this to your doctor. You might be able to request different aftercare medications to avoid relapse or distress. Before taking Ketamine, be sure to mention any existing allergies to your doctor. If you have an allergy to drugs like Ketamine, you might react badly to it. Be sure to keep a thorough record of all your allergies and medications, and give this to your doctor. They may change your treatment plan to avoid interactions or other complications.

You may experience side effects while taking Ketamine. If any of these side effects persist or continue after you go home, contact your doctor. Make sure you have someone to drive you home after you are administered Ketamine. Patients who are given this drug may experience hallucinations and other effects, making them unsafe to drive. If you do not have anyone to drive you home, call a taxi or wait until you are fully conscious and clear-headed.