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5 Things You Need to Know About Lorazepam

By Contributor ; Updated August 14, 2017

Anxious About Taking a Sedative?

Lorazepam is a tranquilizer, or benzodiazepine, primarily prescribed for persistent and disruptive anxiety. It functions by slowing the central nervous system and producing an overall feeling of sedation. Your doctor may also prescribe Lorazepam for other conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy and insomnia. Some doctors even suggest Lorazepam for patients experiencing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Calmly Follow Your Doctor's Advice

First and foremost, only take this drug when it's prescribed for you by your doctor. Keep your doctor and pharmacist informed about all other medications you are taking. When you start taking the drug, restrict your driving or other activities that require you to be alert and coordinated. This is very important because Lorazepam can cause extreme drowsiness. To further minimize the drowsiness, limit alcohol consumption. Restrict your use of cigarettes and other tobacco products which reduce the effectiveness of the Lorazepam.

Risks Not Worth Taking

People with an established allergy to other benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Librium, Tranxene, Valium or Serax, should not take Lorazepam. Also, since Lorazepam can cause birth defects, it shouldn't be taken by pregnant women. If you're breastfeeding, your doctor will prescribe the smallest dose possible and ask you to observe your child carefully for any reaction. While Lorazepam has been used to treat seizures in children, there isn't a lot of research about how it affects kids. Therefore, it's not frequently used for kids. Finally, Lorazepam may be dangerous for people with certain conditions, such as glaucoma, asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, kidney disease, liver disease, depression or a history of drug and alcohol addiction. If you have a history of any of these conditions, talk to your doctor about the risks before starting Lorazepam.

Worrisome Side Effects

Lorazepam does not come without side effects. Some of the more severe side effects of Lorazepam include hallucinations, fainting, suicidal thoughts, severe depression, agitation, hostility and aggressive behavior. Needless to say, if you experience these effects, contact your doctor immediately. More common side effects might include dizziness, poor coordination, slurred speech and sleepiness. It's important to realize that these side effects may be more intense and last longer if you're elderly.

Dependence is a Real Concern

Since prolonged use of Lorazepam can lead to dependence, most doctors prescribe it for short periods of time. Generally, use beyond four months is discouraged, as the body can build up tolerance and require larger amounts for the same effect. If you've been on Lorazepam for a while, your body may have learned to depend on it. Consequently, when you stop taking Lorazepam, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as tremors, sweating, muscle cramps, stomach pain, vomiting, odd thoughts or behaviors and seizure. Minimize these effects by working with your doctor to taper off the dosage gradually.

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