Diazepam: A Comprehensive Guide
Diazepam (dye AZ e pam) is a long acting benzodiazepine used to manage anxiety disorders, alcoholic withdrawal syndrome, muscle spasms, sleep problems, psychological disorders, seizures, before dental surgery and more. It is also sold under the brand name Valium and is a controlled substance. It is available as a prescription drug in different forms. You should take Diazepam according to the prescription to avoid any kind of adverse effects. Diazepam tablets are a habit forming drug. You should take it for a short period of 3-4 weeks.
How does Diazepam work?
Diazepam works by triggering a chemical in the central nervous system called Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). This chemical works by providing calming effects to the nerves of the brain. Continuous use of this medicine without the permission of your doctor can cause addiction, dependence and drug abuse.
Valium is a prescription drug. You should use it under the strict supervision of a healthcare provider because it has a potential risk of interactions and tolerance. You should not suddenly stop taking Diazepam because of the risk of withdrawal symptoms.
Different uses of Diazepam
You should take Diazepam according to the prescription of a healthcare professional. They can prescribe this medication to treat various disorders, such as;
Treat anxiety disorders
Diazepam is used to manage anxiety disorders, usually for a short period. It provides some calming effects during panic attacks or other mental health issues. It helps patients by releasing the chemical aminobutyric acid and giving a calming effect while promoting deep sleep.
Treat alcohol withdrawal syndrome
Patients who drink alcohol and want to quit can take Diazepam to avoid the withdrawal symptoms. But to quit alcohol while minimising the withdrawal symptoms, a patient must consult his doctor or pharmacist. Do not drink alcohol or use any street drugs while taking Diazepam. It can cause very serious side effects. It includes severe drowsiness, confusion, tiredness, memory problems, difficulty waking, suicidal thoughts and breathing problems. Contact emergency services if you experience any of the serious side effects, as they can be life-threatening. Tell your doctor if you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
Diazepam oral tablet is used for the treatment of chronic seizures. Seizures are basically a lingering condition of epilepsy. Diazepam can be very helpful for the cure of chronic seizures. However, the effectiveness of Diazepam is considered to be inferior compared to other seizure medications. Do not lower the dose without your doctor's consent, as it may cause more frequent or increased seizures.
People who are suffering from sleep problems, having issues with their sleep patterns, or suffering from insomnia-like conditions can take a Diazepam oral tablet to get their sleep rhythms rectified. You should not take Diazepam for long term use. Do not use it without consulting with a doctor. Long-term use can cause serious side effects that can also be life threatening.
Excessive sweating is a condition that is identified as hyperhidrosis. Diazepam oral tablet is used to reduce sweating during some stressful conditions or alcohol withdrawal. Beta-blockers and other drugs like Diazepam may greatly help with this condition.
Pre-medication use of Diazepam
Under certain conditions, a Diazepam oral tablet is used as a pre-medication for some specific medical procedures. It can be used before performing surgeries with anaesthesia to promote a sedative effect. This will help patients by providing relaxation to the brain and muscles and getting rid of anxiety and fear before surgery.
Diazepam usage for muscle spasm
Diazepam tablets are used to relieve muscle spasms and act as muscle relaxants. It shows significant effects within 3-4 hours. Continuous use of Diazepam for a few weeks can help patients get rid of muscle spasms and live a healthy life. Tell your doctor if you experience any diazepam side effects or if the medicine is not showing results. Do not stop taking the medicine or take two doses without consulting your GP. Always stick to the correct dose.
Dosage for anxiety
Ask your doctor before starting Diazepam and follow the prescription and dosage. Doctors prescribe different amounts of doses for different age groups depending on the following:
- The condition and the severity of the medical condition
- The age group of the patients
- Diazepam in combination with other medicines
Dose for adult patients
The dosage for adult patients is mostly 2mg, two to four times a day.
Dose for older adults
Diazepam dosage for older adult patients ranges from 2 – 2.5mg, two to three times a day. The dosage is based on the severity of the issue. The doctor will start the dose with a small amount. He may increase it if necessary according to how the body is responding and tolerating the medicine.
Children (6 months – 17 years)
The dosage of Diazepam for children is 1 to 2.5mg, three to four times a day. The doctor will start from the lowest dose and increase it if needed.
If you miss a dose, take it immediately as soon as you remember. But if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose. Take the next dose as per the regular dosing schedule.
Forms of Diazepam
Diazepam, sold as Valium, is usually available in the form of a tablet, an oral solution and as a concentrate. You can take it with or without food. Do not take it with grapefruit juice or alcohol.
Time of action of Diazepam
Diazepam injection is administered in the patient's body intravenously. Its onset time of action is fast, around 1 to 3 minutes. If you take it orally, it will work in 15 to 60 minutes.
Half-life of Diazepam
Diazepam is a fast-acting drug. It absorbs in the patient's plasma quickly. It has a longer half-life and stays in the body for a longer duration. Due to its longer half-life, this drug is considered good for treating acute anxiety disorders and epileptic seizures. Its half-life is 30 to 56 hours.
When should you not take Diazepam?
Physicians mostly avoid advising Diazepam to people who have the below-mentioned conditions:
- Diazepam should be used carefully in combination with other medications to avoid drug interactions. You should inform your physician if you have other medical issues under treatment. You must not take Diazepam in interaction with anti-allergy medicines, anti-depressants, medicines for heart disease, other benzodiazepines, painkillers, relaxants, antibiotics, and more without consulting your doctors.
- Those with some allergy and are prone to allergic reactions through medicine should avoid using Diazepam. It can cause a severe rash on the skin and swelling of the face, lips, or tongue. This may require an immediate visit to the emergency room.
- Those patients who suffer from kidney and liver disease should not use Diazepam. Consult your doctor to avoid any serious risks.
- Patients who have myasthenia gravis (a condition that causes muscle weakness) should avoid Diazepam.
- People with breathing issues, sleep apnea or asthma patients should avoid Valium without a prescription.
- People with chronic muscle stiffness issues should only use Valium under the supervision of a healthcare provider.
- Those who have some psychological problems, like personality disorders, should not take Diazepam without consultation.
- People with acute narrow-angle glaucoma should avoid Diazepam. People with open-angle glaucoma can take Diazepam.
- Diazepam is not suggested to women who are trying to become pregnant or have a newborn and are feeding breast milk.
Do not use Diazepam with other medications
Certain medicines can interact with Diazepam:
Combination with anti-depressants
Avoid Diazepam with certain medicines, especially when taking anti-depressants for the treatment of depression.
During the treatment of tuberculosis
The use of Diazepam when someone is under treatment for tuberculosis (TB) is prohibited.
During asthma treatment
Do not use Diazepam when having asthma or other kinds of breathing problems. Do not use Diazepam, especially with theophylline. It can lead to shallow breathing, trouble breathing, serious respiratory depression, and even death.
During stomach issues or with stomach medications
Patients with stomach issues like acidity and those who are already using medicines like Omeprazole should not use Diazepam without consulting with their doctor or pharmacist.
During fungal infections or with fungal medication
It is always advised not to take Diazepam when a patient is already under treatment with some antifungal medication and using medicine like fluconazole.
Side effects of Diazepam
Diazepam belongs to medications called benzodiazepines and, like other drugs, can cause side effects. Some of the common side effects are given below:
Makes the brain function slower
Diazepam can affect the brain's functioning, making it slower than usual. Users can't make quick responses or judgements and can't take sudden actions. It can also make the user unable to operate heavy machinery or drive a motor vehicle attentively.
However, these symptoms are normal due to the sleepiness this medication causes. It is alarming only when it worsens and becomes a condition like faintness.
Slow respiration and heart rate
Diazepam can make the respiratory system work slower than usual. It can also cause long pauses in breathing, or a person may stop breathing, leading to death.
Diazepam with alcohol
Diazepam can provide relief from problems like withdrawal symptoms from alcohol consumption. It is mandatory to follow the instructions of your doctor before stopping Diazepam to avoid withdrawal symptoms. It is strictly prohibited to take Diazepam with alcohol. Mixing both causes severe drowsiness. Higher levels of sedation can cause respiratory depression and death.
Drowsiness due to the sedative effect
It can cause drowsiness in patients. It increases the risk of injury by falling down the stairs, driving or operating machinery.
Gastric issues with Diazepam
Diazepam can cause gastric issues by producing acid in the stomach. It can cause a Globus sensation, which can be annoying. It gives a feeling as if something is stuck in the oesophagus. This mostly happens while lying down, causing trouble breathing.
Taking Diazepam for a long time or taking this medication regularly can cause one to become physically and psychologically dependent. It can cause severe mood swings with a change in behaviour.
People who use Diazepam for a longer period can experience dependence. Possible side effects include nausea, confusion, jitters, headaches, muscle pain, sweating and cramps.
Other side effects
- Changes in the skin colour mostly face skin turned pale.
- Itching in different parts of the body
- Muscle weakness
- Anger issues
- Frequent issues with a sore throat
- Lack of focus on daily activities
- Irritation while urinating
Useful tips for Diazepam use
- You should take Diazepam with a full glass of water.
- Patients should not increase or decrease the dose of Diazepam without consulting with a doctor.
- Patients should not stop taking Diazepam at once. If you are consuming it for a long time, this can cause side effects and withdrawal symptoms. These can include outbursts of sweating, anxiety, and panic attacks.
- Avoid doing heavy tasks and driving a motor vehicle after taking Diazepam for a few hours.
- If you are taking Diazepam, avoid using alcohol and other drugs to prevent any reaction.