Lorazepam, also known as Ativan, is a benzodiazepine drug. It is a prescription-based medicine used to treat several conditions related to brain activity like anxiety (anxiousness) and insomnia (inability to fall asleep). It works by calming and relaxing your brain. Lorazepam is given by oral administration (sublingual tablets or capsules) or IV injections.
Here is an in-depth article related to Lorazepam.
What Is Lorazepam Used For?
Lorazepam is used for treating the following conditions:
- Anxiety disorders
- Sleeping difficulties (insomnia)
- Panic Disorders
- Alcohol Withdrawal
- Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (Off-label use)
How Does Lorazepam Work? Mechanism Of Action
Lorazepam is a short-acting benzodiazepine drug. It works by promoting an inhibitory neurotransmitter (chemical) in your brain, relieving anxiousness and unwanted excitement. This helps to ease anxiety, panic disorders, sleeping problems, and other conditions related to the central nervous system.
What Are The Side Effects Of Lorazepam?
The common side effects of lorazepam include:
- Dizziness and drowsiness
- Sleep apnea
- Low blood pressure
- Changes in sex drive
The severe side effects of lorazepam include:
- Hypersensitivity reactions
- Excitation and agitation
- Respiratory depression
- Ataxia (loss of control over body movements).
- Visual disturbances
- Muscle Spasms and jerky movements
- Speaking difficulty
- Breathing problems
If you face severe side effects of lorazepam, consult your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
How To Manage Lorazepam Side Effects?
The common side effects of lorazepam go away with time. So, you don't need to worry about them as they usually occur. However, if they persist or become intolerable, consult your pharmacist to switch your medication.
The side effects of lorazepam vary from patient to patient. Here are some tips for managing the common side effects of lorazepam:
- If you face GIT disturbance or nausea with lorazepam, use the drug during or before a meal.
- Do not engage in any mentality exerting activity after taking lorazepam. Take rest as the drug causes dizziness and drowsiness. Engaging in mentally exerting activities will increase the side effect of drowsiness.
- Start with a lower dose by the pharmacist's recommendation and gradually increase the lorazepam dose to minimize side effects.
- Take lorazepam regularly at the same time every day.
- Do not take lorazepam with any sedative drug, antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, or pain relievers, as they may worsen the side effects of lorazepam.
- Do not eat or drink grapefruit or grapefruit juice while on lorazepam therapy.
- Do not take lorazepam with opioids—for example, codeine, hydrocodone, and tramadol.
- Drink plenty of fluids for managing constipation and GIT disturbances.
- Do not take alcohol with lorazepam.
- In case of lorazepam overdose or toxicity, your doctor may give you a flumazenil injection to reverse the drug's toxic effects. The symptoms of lorazepam overdose include loss of consciousness, confusion, deep sleep, and slow reflexes.
- Do not take lorazepam if you have been allergic to this drug.
Before starting lorazepam, tell your doctor if you are on any other herbal or prescription medication treatment.
Inform your doctor if you have liver or kidney disease, glaucoma, depression, alcohol use, drug allergies, or substance abuse before taking lorazepam.
If lorazepam is affecting your mental health, inform your pharmacist right away.
How To Take Lorazepam?
- Take lorazepam as prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist.
- Do not crush, chew, dissolve, or bite extended-release capsules. Swallow the whole tablet with a full glass of water.
- If you have been prescribed an extended-release lorazepam capsule, take it once daily in the morning.
- You can take lorazepam with or without food.
- If you are taking lorazepam for insomnia (difficulty while sleeping), take the drug 1 hour or half an hour before bedtime.
- If you have been prescribed lorazepam sublingual tablets, do not swallow the tablet as a whole. Place it under your tongue and let it dissolve with saliva. Wait for two minutes and swallow the dissolved tablet.
- Store lorazepam between 59 to 86 degrees and away from light, heat, and moisture.
When Should I Not Take Lorazepam?
If you have the following diseases or a previous history of these diseases, avoid taking lorazepam or use it with extreme caution if clearly necessary.
- Sleep apnea
- Severe respiratory depression
- Acute narrow-angle glaucoma
Lorazepam Dose And Strengths
Lorazepam is prescribed as oral tablets, extended-release capsules, or IV injections, depending on some factors like:
- Your age
- The severity of your disease
- Your disease history
Lorazepam Strengths And Dosage Form:
- Tablets: 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg.
- Extended-release capsules: 1 mg, 2 mg, and 3 mg.
- Injectable solutions: 2 mg/ml and 4 mg/ml.
What Dose Of Lorazepam Should I Take?
Take a dose of lorazepam as prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist because the dose for each patient varies depending on the condition being treated and the patient's disease history.
The standard prescribed dose of lorazepam is given below:
The initial dose of lorazepam tablets for anxiety is 2 to 3 mg given after every eight hours. Do not exceed the dose to more than 10 mg per day.
For Status Epilepticus:
The standard dose for status epilepticus is 4 mg per dose slow IV, given 2 mg per minute.
If seizures still persist after 10 minutes, 4 mg IV is administered again.
The usual dose for insomnia is 2 to 4 mg per oral every day at bedtime.
For Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea And Vomiting
For chemotherapy-Induced nausea and vomiting, the lorazepam dose is 0.5 to 2 mg per oral or IV given every six hours or as needed.
Alternative Treatment Options For Anxiety And Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea/Vomiting
If you cannot tolerate lorazepam or experience unusual side effects, there are other drug options and other benzodiazepines available as an alternative therapy.
The alternatives to lorazepam include:
- Valium (For anxiety)
- Alprazolam (Xanax for anxiety)
- Buspirone (For anxiety)
- Diazepam (For anxiety)
- Hydroxyzine (An antihistamine drug used to treat allergy, anxiety, and nausea).
- Lexapro (A non-benzodiazepine antidepressant used to treat anxiety and depression).
- Ondansetron (For chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting).
Why Is Lorazepam Considered An Effective Treatment Option For Nausea And Vomiting?
Lorazepam is an off-label treatment option for chemotherapy-Induced nausea and vomiting. It is considered an effective treatment option for nausea and vomiting because nausea is linked to our brain area called the chemoreceptor trigger zone, and lorazepam produces a calming effect in the brain, which can have an impact on controlling the symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
Can I buy Lorazepam Online?
Yes, but it can depend on different pharmacies, their policies, and whether you have a prescription or not. Lorazepam is sold by prescription only as it has a risk for physical dependence and abuse.
So, if you have a prescription for lorazepam and its online order is applicable in the pharmacy, you can purchase lorazepam online by showing your prescription. On the other hand, if you don't have a prescription, you cannot buy lorazepam online or make an in-store purchase
When should I take Lorazepam?+
Take lorazepam as prescribed and recommended by your doctor or pharmacist. If you have been prescribed lorazepam for insomnia, take it before your bedtime. If you have been prescribed lorazepam extended-release capsules, take it once daily in the morning.
How long does it take for Lorazepam to work?+
It will take around 20 to 30 minutes for lorazepam to work.
Can I take Lorazepam while pregnant?+
No. But you can take lorazepam while pregnant in case of life-threatening emergencies and if no other safer drug option is available. There is positive evidence that lorazepam can harm the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Moreover, lorazepam should not be used in breastfeeding as it excretes in human breast milk.
Can I drive after taking Lorazepam?+
No. You should not drive after taking lorazepam. The drug has a great potential for causing sedation, dizziness, and drowsiness, which can be harmful to alerting activities like driving or operating machinery.
How long can I take Lorazepam for?+
Take lorazepam for not more than the duration prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist. Do not abruptly stop the medication without your doctor's recommendation, as it can lead to withdrawal symptoms.
Lorazepam is commonly prescribed for the short-term, i.e., from a few days to a maximum of 4 weeks. Taking lorazepam longer than this duration without the severe need or a doctor's prescription can adversely affect our health.
Does long-term use of Lorazepam have adverse effects on my health?+
Yes. Prolonged use of lorazepam can lead to physical and psychological dependence, especially if you have a history of alcohol or drug abuse; if you use lorazepam for the short-term, i.e., 2 to 4 weeks, the potential for abuse and adverse effects decrease.
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