The Main Diazepam Side Effects

What Is Diazepam

Diazepam Side EffectsDiazepam, also known as Valium, is a benzodiazepine drug, with anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, hypnotic, sedative, and muscle relaxant effect. It’s used for the treatment and management of various conditions, like insomnia, anxiety, seizures of various nature, status epilepticus (life-threatening persistent seizure state of the brain), and muscle spasms. Due to the fact that it has a hypotensive effect, it’s sometimes recommended to alleviate hypertension. Diazepam is also used to treat restless leg syndrome and Ménière’s disease (disorder of the inner ear which can induce loss hearing and disbalance).

Diazepam is also used to treat the withdrawal effects of chronic alcoholism and other benzodiazepine drugs.

Diazepam is sometimes administered to patients that are about to undergo certain surgical procedures, aiming to alleviate anxiety and tension. Also, due to it’s relatively low toxicity even in an overdose, is used to manage and acute seizures, panic attacks and severe anxiety attacks.

Diazepam Side Effects

Like most tranquilizers, diazepam comes with quite a range of side effects. The most important of the diazepam side effects is addiction. Like for most benzodiazepine drugs, patients that undergo a medium or long-term treatment with diazepam will experience benzodiazepine addiction, and they will have to deal with withdrawal effects.

Long-term treatment with diazepam causes tolerance to the drug, and necessitates increased dosage, which may worsen other diazepam side effects.

The most common diazepam side effects are: impaired movement and coordination, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, depression. Due to the fact that diazepam has a hypotensive effect, it might cause reflex tachycardia (increase of the heart beat rate, as the heart tries to raise the blood pressure).

Another one of the diazepam side effects is short-term amnesia and anterograde amnesia (inability to create new memories), and confusion, but these adverse effects usually occur due to high dosage with this drug. Also, the worsening of depression is one of the common diazepam side effects. Along with causing or worsening depression, diazepam can also intensify or cause suicidal behavior. That’s why it’s not recommended to patients with cases of depression. Or, if suicidal behavior occurs, cessation of the treatment with diazepam is recommended.

Some of the less common and also paradoxical diazepam side effects are nervousness and irritability, and sometimes rage and violent outbursts, insomnia, muscle cramping. These side effects occur in patients with a history of drug or alcohol abuse, or people with aggressive behavior.

Diazepam injections are usually painful, and sometimes the pain can persist for a while, along the whole vein it was injected.

Diazepam Interactions and Contraindications

To avoid especially the diazepam side effects of depressive nature, this drug should not be administered in conjunction with other narcotics and antidepressants, opiates, antypsychotics and anticonvulsants. Also, phenothiziazines, barbiturates, anti-depressive drugs and narcotics enhance the effects of diazepam and may lead to adverse effects.

Certain antifungal drugs like itraconazole or ketoconazole, or antibiotics like erythromycin and ciprofloxacin, and in general, MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) drugs, can inhibit the elimination process of diazepam, and this way prolong its action.

Drugs like phenobarbital, phenytoin, rifampin and carbamazepine accentuate the metabolism of diazepam, which diminishes its effect. Also, diazepam increases the plasma level of phenobarbital.

Diazepam is also not indicated during pregnancy or nursing, nor to elderly patients with respiratory deficiency or to patiens with apnea, because it can cause respiratory depression and lead to a respiratory arrest.

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