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What is Diazepam Used to Treat?
Diazepam is a drug best known by the brand name Valium®. Diazepam is mostly used to treat anxiety, insomnia, seizures, muscle spasms, restless leg syndrome and symptoms of alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal. Other uses of valium include inducing amnesia and reducing tension during surgical procedures and as pre-medication for endoscopies.
How Does Diazepam Work?
Diazepam (Valium) produces depression in the central nervous system. It contains anticonvulsant, amnesic, anxiolytic, sedative and muscle relaxant properties. Valium also affects areas on the limbic system, the thalamus and hypothalamus contributing to the relief of anxiety. Valium is long lasting and can be given intravenously, orally, intra muscularly and also as a rectal suppository. Due to Valium producing dependence and tolerance, short term use is recommended.
What are the Diazepam Side Effects?
All medications have side effects, those associated with Diazepam (Valium) include:
- Confusion/cognitive deficits
- Sleep disturbances
- Impaired coordination/balance and motor function
- Respiratory depression
- Changes in sex drive
Anyone taking Valium who experiences these or any side effects should consult their health care provider.
Dependence and tolerance should be considered when taking Valium. Tolerance results in the need for higher dosages to achieve the same effect which can cause dependence or addiction. Persons who have a dependence on Valium and stop talking it suddenly may experience withdrawal syndrome symptoms of which include more serious anxiety and insomnia.
Due to contraindications associated with Valium, it is not recommended for use in the following populations or in persons with the following medical conditions:
- Elderly Persons
- Women who are pregnant, considering pregnancy or nursing
- Persons with liver problems
- Persons with kidney disease or on dialysis
- Persons with co-morbid psychiatric conditions/psychosis
- Persons who are drug or alcohol dependent or intoxicated
- Severe depression
- Suicidal ideations
- Allergies to benzodiazepines
- Persons less than 18 years old
Alcohol may increase the sedation effects of Valium so anyone taking Valium should not drive or operate heavy machinery. Also tobacco and caffeine should not be ingested when taking Valium due to contraindications.
Because other drugs when mixed with Valium may cause adverse reactions, it is important anyone taking Valium disclose all medication use to their health care provider. Valium is not intended for recreational use. If you are considering taking Valium consult your health care provider to help determine if it is the best medication for you.
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