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Oxazepam Side Effects

It is possible that some side effects of oxazepam may not have been reported. These can be reported to the FDA here. Always consult a healthcare professional for medical advice.

For the Consumer

Applies to oxazepam: oral capsule, oral tablet

As well as its needed effects, oxazepam may cause unwanted side effects that require medical attention.

If any of the following side effects occur while taking oxazepam, check with your doctor immediately:

  • Abdominal or stomach pain
  • black, tarry stools
  • chest pain
  • chills
  • clay-colored stools
  • cough
  • dark urine
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • fever with or without chills
  • headache
  • itching
  • light-colored stools
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea and vomiting
  • painful or difficult urination
  • rash
  • shakiness and unsteady walk
  • shakiness in the legs, arms, hands, or feet
  • shortness of breath
  • slurred speech
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • stomach pain
  • swelling
  • swollen glands
  • unpleasant breath odor
  • unsteadiness, trembling, or other problems with muscle control or coordination
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting of blood
  • yellow eyes or skin
Incidence not known
  • Being forgetful
  • confusion about identity, place, and time
  • cough or hoarseness
  • decreased awareness or responsiveness
  • false or unusual sense of well-being
  • fever and sore throat
  • general feeling of tiredness or weakness
  • hallucinations
  • loss of bladder control
  • loss of memory
  • lower back or side pain
  • nightmares
  • pale skin
  • problems with memory
  • severe sleepiness
  • trouble sleeping
  • unusual excitement, nervousness, restlessness, or irritability

If any of the following symptoms of overdose occur while taking oxazepam, get emergency help immediately:

Symptoms of overdose
  • Blurred vision
  • change in consciousness
  • confusion
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up from a lying or sitting position suddenly
  • drowsiness
  • loss of consciousness
  • loss of strength or energy
  • muscle pain or weakness
  • sweating
  • unusual drowsiness, dullness, tiredness, weakness, or feeling of sluggishness
  • unusual weak feeling

Some oxazepam side effects may not need any medical attention. As your body gets used to the medicine these side effects may disappear. Your health care professional may be able to help you prevent or reduce these side effects, but do check with them if any of the following side effects continue, or if you are concerned about them:

  • Decreased interest in sexual intercourse
  • feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings
  • inability to have or keep an erection
  • increased in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
  • increased interest in sexual intercourse
  • loss in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
  • rash with flat lesions or small raised lesions on the skin
  • sensation of spinning
Incidence not known
  • Double vision
  • menstrual changes
  • seeing double

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to oxazepam: oral capsule, oral tablet

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects are common, particularly at higher doses. These effects include drowsiness, psychomotor retardation, decreased reaction time, lightheadedness, confusion, somnolence, perspiration, and euphoria.[Ref]

Some patients have a paradoxical (disinhibition) reaction to oxazepam in the first few weeks of therapy. This reaction is usually self-limited.[Ref]


Other side effects have included withdrawal symptoms as a result of abrupt cessation of oxazepam. Withdrawal symptoms have included anxiety, insomnia, tremors, seizures and depression.[Ref]

Withdrawal symptoms occur most commonly after prolonged therapy (6 months or more). Rare cases of withdrawal seizures have been reported in some patients after abrupt cessation of high doses. Psychological dependence on benzodiazepines may develop after prolonged administration. Patients with a history of substance abuse are particularly prone to develop psychological dependence.[Ref]


Genitourinary side effects including urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction have been reported.[Ref]


Hepatic side effects including mildly elevated liver function tests have been reported.[Ref]

In patients with liver disease, monitoring of liver function tests during oxazepam therapy may be helpful.[Ref]


Periodic monitoring of blood counts may be helpful.[Ref]

Hematologic side effects including cases of leukopenia have been reported rarely. A case of pancytopenia has also been reported.[Ref]


Hypersensitivity side effects including diffuse exanthemas and urticaria have been reported rarely. A case of fixed drug eruptions has also been reported.[Ref]


1. Fischbach R "Hypnotic efficacy and safety of midazolam and oxazepam in hospitalized female patients." Br J Clin Pharmacol 16 (1983): s157-60

2. Wilbur R, Kulik AV "Abstinence syndrome from therapeutic doses of oxazepam." Can J Psychiatry 28 (1983): 298-300

3. Hersch EL, Billings RF "Acute confusional state with status petit mal as a withdrawal syndrome: and five year follow-up." Can J Psychiatry 33 (1988): 157-9

4. Busto U, Sellers EM, Naranjo CA, et al "Withdrawal reaction after long-term therapeutic use of benzodiazepines." N Engl J Med 315 (1986): 854-9

5. Ananth J "Abstinence syndrome from therapeutic doses of oxazepam." Can J Psychiatry 28 (1983): 592

6. Lupolover R, Ballmer U, Helcl J, et al "Efficacy and safety of midazolam and oxazepam in insomniacs." Br J Clin Pharmacol 16 (1983): s139-43

7. "Product Information. Serax (oxazepam)." Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, Philadelphia, PA.

8. Calamaras MR, Stowe ZN, Newport DJ "Pancytopenia associated with the introduction of oxcarbazepine." J Clin Psychopharmacol 27 (2007): 217-8

9. Krischer J, Prins C, Ruffieux P, Kondooestreicher M, Saurat JH "Extensive fixed drug eruption induced by oxazepam." Arch Dermatol 132 (1996): 718

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