Diazepam

Pronunciation

Generic Name: diazepam (dye-AZ-e-pam)
Brand Name: Generic only. No brands available.

Diazepam is used for:

Treating anxiety disorders or for the short-term relief of the symptoms of anxiety. It is also used to treat seizures, certain types of muscle spasms, and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal (eg, agitation, tremor, hallucinations). Diazepam is also used before surgery or other medical procedures to help reduce anxiety and tension. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Diazepam is a benzodiazepine. It works by increasing the action of a certain chemical (gamma-aminobutyric acid [GABA]) in the brain and nervous system. This helps to reduce anxiety. It also helps to reduce seizure activity in the brain and to reduce muscle spasms.

Do NOT use diazepam if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in diazepam
  • you have acute narrow-angle glaucoma or untreated open-angle glaucoma, certain muscle problems (eg, myasthenia gravis), severe liver problems, severe breathing problems, or sleep apnea
  • you are taking an HIV protease inhibitor (eg, ritonavir) or sodium oxybate (GHB)

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: Flashback: FDA Drug Approvals 2013

Before using diazepam:

Some medical conditions may interact with diazepam. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have glaucoma or increased pressure in the eye, liver or kidney problems, muscle problems or weakness, or a blood disorder (eg, porphyria)
  • if you have a history of lung or breathing problems (eg, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD]), seizures, mood or mental problems (eg, depression, psychosis), or suicidal thoughts or actions
  • if you have a history of alcohol or other substance abuse or dependence

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with diazepam. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Rifamycins (eg, rifampin) or St. John's wort because they may decrease diazepam's effectiveness
  • Azole antifungals (eg, ketoconazole), barbiturates (eg, phenobarbital), cimetidine, clozapine, diltiazem, HIV protease inhibitors (eg, ritonavir), macrolide antibiotics (eg, erythromycin), methadone, nefazodone, omeprazole, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (eg, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine), sodium oxybate (GHB), or telithromycin because side effects, such as increased sedation and confusion, may occur
  • Disulfiram, hormonal contraceptives (eg, birth control pills), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) (eg, phenelzine), narcotic pain medicines (eg, morphine, codeine), or phenothiazines (eg, thioridazine), or other medicines for mood or mental problems (eg, olanzapine) because they may increase the risk of diazepam's side effects
  • Hydantoins (eg, phenytoin) because the risk of their side effects may be increased by diazepam

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if diazepam may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use diazepam:

Use diazepam as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Diazepam is usually given as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. If you will be using diazepam at home, a health care provider will teach you how to use it. Be sure you understand how to use diazepam. Follow the procedures you are taught when you use a dose. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.
  • Check with your doctor before you eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you use diazepam.
  • If you miss a dose of diazepam and you are taking it regularly, take it as soon as possible. If several hours have passed or if it is nearing time for the next dose, do not double the dose to catch up, unless advised by your health care provider. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use diazepam.

Important safety information:

  • Diazepam may cause drowsiness, dizziness, or blurred vision. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use diazepam with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use medicines that may cause drowsiness (eg, sleep aids, muscle relaxers) while you are using diazepam; it may add to their effects. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about which medicines may cause drowsiness.
  • Do NOT take more than the recommended dose or use for longer than prescribed without checking with your doctor.
  • If you take diazepam regularly over a long period of time (eg, several months), do not suddenly stop it without first talking with your doctor. You may have an increased risk of side effects (eg, mood changes, trouble sleeping). If you need to stop diazepam or add a new medicine, your doctor may need to gradually lower your dose.
  • If you are taking diazepam for seizures, carry an ID card at all times that says you have a seizure disorder and you take diazepam.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you take diazepam before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
  • Lab tests, including liver function and complete blood cell counts, may be performed while you use diazepam. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use diazepam with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially drowsiness, incoordination, and mental or mood changes.
  • Caution is advised when using diazepam in CHILDREN; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially mental or mood changes.
  • Diazepam should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN younger than 1 month old; safety and effectiveness in these children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Diazepam may cause harm to the fetus. If you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using diazepam while you are pregnant. Diazepam is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while using diazepam.

When used for long periods of time or at high doses, diazepam may not work as well and may require higher doses to obtain the same effect as when originally taken. This is known as TOLERANCE. Talk with your doctor if diazepam stops working well. Do not take more than prescribed.

Some people who use diazepam for a long time may develop a need to continue taking it. People who take high doses are also at risk. This is known as DEPENDENCE or addiction. If you stop using diazepam suddenly, you may have WITHDRAWAL symptoms. These may include convulsions, tremor, stomach and muscle cramps, vomiting, or sweating. Do not suddenly stop using diazepam without first checking with your doctor.

Possible side effects of diazepam:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Drowsiness; incoordination; pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site; tiredness.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); confusion; difficulty breathing; fainting; fever, chills, or persistent sore throat; hallucinations; inability to control urination or difficulty urinating; memory problems or memory loss; new or worsening mental or mood changes (eg, agitation, aggressiveness, behavior changes, depression, irritability, rage, restlessness); severe or persistent dizziness or lightheadedness; severe or persistent pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site; slow heartbeat; slurred speech; tremor; trouble sleeping; vision changes (eg, blurred vision, double vision); yellowing of the skin or eyes.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include clumsiness; coma; confusion; deep sleep; fainting; loss of consciousness; severe drowsiness; slow or shallow breathing; slow reflexes; trouble breathing.

Proper storage of diazepam:

Store diazepam at room temperature, between 68 and 77 degrees F (20 to 25 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep diazepam out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about diazepam, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Diazepam is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take diazepam or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about diazepam. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to diazepam. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using diazepam.

Issue Date: December 3, 2014
Database Edition 14.4.1.003
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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