Generic Name: diazepam (dye AZ e pam)
Brand Names: Valium
What is Valium?
Valium (diazepam) is a benzodiazepine (ben-zoe-dye-AZE-eh-peens). Diazepam affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with anxiety.
Valium is sometimes used with other medications to treat seizures.
You should not use Valium if you are allergic to diazepam or similar medicines (Ativan, Klonopin, Restoril, Xanax, and others), or if you have myasthenia gravis, severe liver disease, narrow-angle glaucoma, a severe breathing problem, or sleep apnea.
Before you take Valium, tell your doctor if you have glaucoma, asthma or other breathing problems, kidney or liver disease, seizures, or a history of drug or alcohol addiction, mental illness, depression, or suicidal thoughts.
Do not start or stop taking Valium during pregnancy without your doctor's advice. Diazepam may cause harm to an unborn baby, but having a seizure during pregnancy could harm both the mother and the baby. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking diazepam for seizures.
Valium may be habit-forming. Misuse of habit-forming medicine can cause addiction, overdose, or death.
Do not give this medication to a child younger than 6 months old.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use Valium if you are allergic to diazepam or similar drugs (Ativan, Klonopin, Restoril, Xanax, and others), or if you have:
myasthenia gravis (a muscle weakness disorder);
severe liver disease;
a severe breathing problem;
sleep apnea (breathing stops during sleep); or
alcoholism, or addiction to drugs similar to diazepam.
To make sure Valium is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have any of these conditions:
asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), or other breathing problems;
kidney or liver disease;
epilepsy or other seizure disorder;
a history of mental illness, depression, or suicidal thoughts or behavior;
a history of drug or alcohol addiction; or
if you use a narcotic (opioid) medication.
When treating seizures, do not start or stop taking Valium during pregnancy without your doctor's advice. Valium may cause harm to an unborn baby, but having a seizure during pregnancy could harm both the mother and the baby. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking Valium for seizures.
When treating anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, or muscle spasms: If you take Valium while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on habit-forming medicine may need medical treatment for several weeks. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
Diazepam can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.
The sedative effects of Valium may last longer in older adults. Accidental falls are common in elderly patients who take benzodiazepines. Use caution to avoid falling or accidental injury while you are taking Valium.
Valium is not approved for use by anyone younger than 6 months old. Do not give this medicine to a child without a doctor's advice.
How should I take Valium?
Take Valium exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Valium may be habit-forming. Misuse of habit-forming medicine can cause addiction, overdose, or death. Selling or giving away this medicine is against the law.
Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
Valium should be used for only a short time. Do not take this medicine for longer than 4 months without your doctor's advice.
Do not stop using Valium suddenly, or you could have increased seizures or unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using diazepam.
Call your doctor at once if you feel that this medicine is not working as well as usual, or if you think you need to use more than usual.
While using Valium, you may need frequent blood tests at your doctor's office.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light. After you have stopped using this medicine, flush any unused pills down the toilet.
Keep track of the amount of medicine used from each new bottle. Valium is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using your medicine improperly or without a prescription.
See also: Dosage Information (in more detail)
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of diazepam can be fatal.
Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, loss of balance or coordination, limp or weak muscles, or fainting.
What should I avoid while taking Valium?
This medication may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.
Do not drink alcohol while taking diazepam. This medication can increase the effects of alcohol.
Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with diazepam and lead to unwanted side effects. Discuss the use of grapefruit products with your doctor.
Valium side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Valium: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
confusion, hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior;
unusual risk-taking behavior, decreased inhibitions, no fear of danger;
depressed mood, thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself;
hyperactivity, agitation, aggression, hostility;
new or worsening seizures;
weak or shallow breathing, a feeling like you might pass out;
muscle twitching, tremor;
loss of bladder control; or
little or no urinating.
Common Valium side effects may include:
muscle weakness; or
loss of coordination.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect Valium?
Taking Valium with other drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing can cause dangerous or life-threatening side effects. Ask your doctor before taking a sleeping pill, narcotic pain medicine, prescription cough medicine, a muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.ell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:
an antibiotic--clarithromycin, erythromycin, telithromycin;
an antidepressant such as fluoxetine and others;
antifungal medicine--itraconazole, ketoconazole, voriconazole;
heart or blood pressure medication such as diltiazem, nicardipine, quinidine, verapamil, and others; or
HIV/AIDS medicine--atazanavir, delavirdine, fosamprenavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, saquinavir, or ritonavir.
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with diazepam, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
More about Valium (diazepam)
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your pharmacist can provide more information about Valium.
- Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Valium only for the indication prescribed.
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