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Ativan (Lorazepam)

Ativan, also called lorazepam, is used to control anxiety in adults, young adults, and teens. Ativan is part of a group of medications called benzodiazepines and can also be prescribed as part of a treatment plan for alcoholism, to curb the nausea associated with cancer treatments, and to help treat insomnia or other sleep-related issues.

Dosage

Ativan comes in a tablet or a concentrated liquid form; the liquid concentrate can be dissolved in a beverage, pudding, or applesauce if needed. A doctor can help patients determine which form of the drug is best for them. This prescription is usually taken two or three times per day and should be taken exactly as directed.

Important Information Before Use

Ativan is not right for everyone. If you have or have ever had a heart attack or heart disease, glaucoma, seizures, kidney disease, or liver disease, you should talk to your doctor before beginning this medication. If you are over age sixty-five, work with your doctor to find the correct dosage of this medication for you; you may need to use an alternative treatment or medication for your condition.

 

If you are taking any other prescription drugs or supplements, you should check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking Ativan. This drug may interact with other medications or supplements, including but not limited to:

  • antihistamines
  • antidepressants
  • sleeping pills
  • tranquilizers

Ativan can be habit forming and is usually taken for only a short period of time

Important Information During Use

Let your doctor know right away if you are pregnant or become pregnant while taking Ativan; this medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Tell your doctor, dentist, or surgeon that you are taking this drug before you have any type of surgery, including dental surgery.

 

Ativan can make you extremely drowsy; using alcohol can worsen this side effect. Smoking or using tobacco products can reduce the effectiveness of this medication.

 

Overdose of Ativan is a medical emergency and should be treated right away. Symptoms of overdose include extreme drowsiness, low blood pressure, speech problems, loss of consciousness, slowed heart rate, and death.

Side Effects

If you experience serious or severe side effects from Ativan, you should call your doctor immediately. Serious side effects may include:

  • Irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Fever
  • Hives or skin rash
  • Shaking, tremors, inability to sit still, or shuffling walk
  • Yellowed eyes or skin

Less serious side effects can include:

  • Drowsiness, tiredness, or weakness
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in appetite
  • Restlessness or nervousness
  • Nausea, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Change in libido or sexual ability
  • Difficult or frequent urination
  • Blurry vision

Withdrawing

Since Ativan can cause dependency issues, you should talk to your doctor before reducing or discontinuing this medication; you should not stop taking this medication abruptly. You can reduce the symptoms you feel during withdrawal by slowly tapering off of the drug over time. Possible symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety, restlessness, or irritability
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Confusion, hallucinations, or personality changes
  • Tiredness or dizziness
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Heart palpitations or rapid heartbeat

References:

  1. Ativan. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-6685/ativan-oral/details
  2. Ativan (lorazepam). (2013, January). Retrieved from http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=About_Medications&Template=/TaggedPage/TaggedPageDisplay.cfm&TPLID=51&ContentID=66280

 

Last Update: 02-19-2013

 

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