Lorazepam

Lorazepam
(lor-A ze-pam)

Ativan

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Lorazepam is used to treat anxiety. Lorazepam belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines which act on the brain and nerves (central nervous system) to produce a calming effect. This drug works by enhancing the effects of a certain natural chemical in the body (GABA). Use this drug only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional. If directed by your doctor, this drug may also be used to reduce the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, to prevent nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, and for trouble sleeping (insomnia).

Along with its benefits, this medication may rarely cause abnormal drug-seeking behavior (addiction). When this medication is used for a long time, it may not work as well. Talk with your doctor if this medication stops working well.

Withdrawal symptoms may occur if you suddenly stop using this medication, especially if it has been used regularly for a long time or in high doses (more than 1-4 weeks) or if you have a history of alcoholism, drug abuse, or personality disorder. Do not suddenly stop using this drug without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when this drug is abruptly stopped. Your dose may need to be gradually decreased. To prevent withdrawal reactions, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Report any withdrawal reactions immediately.

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Some products that may interact with this drug include: clozapine, kava, sodium oxybate (also known as gamma hydroxybutyrate or GHB).

Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other products that cause drowsiness including certain antihistamines (such as diphenhydramine), other medicines for sleep or anxiety (such as diazepam, zolpidem), muscle relaxants, narcotic pain relievers (such as codeine), psychiatric medicines (such as chlorpromazine, risperidone, amitriptyline, trazodone).

Check the labels on all your medicines (such as allergy or cough-and-cold products) because they may contain ingredients that cause drowsiness. Ask your pharmacist about using those products safely.

Common side effects of Lorazepam include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Change in sexual interest/ability
  • Constipation, heartburn, or change in appetite

If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Tell your doctor right away if you have any unlikely but serious side effects, including: mental/mood changes (such as hallucinations, depression, thoughts of suicide), slurred speech or difficulty talking, vision changes, unusual weakness, trouble walking, memory problems, signs of infection (such as fever, persistent sore throat), trouble breathing (especially during sleep).

Get medical help right away if you have any rare but very serious side effects, including: yellowing eyes or skin, seizures.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

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Dr. Stephen Covey

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