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Ativan Side Effects

Ativan is the brand name for prescription drug Lorazepam, which belongs to the class of drugs known as Benzodiazepines. It is commonly prescribed by physicians for treating acute seizures, short-term and long-term anxiety disorders, and is frequently given before surgery for relaxation and to reduce recall. Ativan has depressant effects on the brain and produces calming effect in most people. It is generally well tolerated and effective in most patients. However, Ativan side effects occur in some people who take this medication.

Ativan side effects:

Although considered safe to use, Ativan can produce many side effects in the body and also causes drug dependence. Ativan side effects should be reported to the physician, if it becomes severe and negatively impact the patient's daily lifestyle. The potential side effects that occur as a result of Ativan use includes

1. Neurological side effects:

Ativan works by correcting the chemical imbalance in the brain. This effect will cause some neurological side effects including

a. Drowsiness:

The most common side effect as a result of Ativan use is drowsiness, occurring up to 16 percent of the patient who take it. Drowsiness is more prominent during the initial doses. The sleepiness caused by Ativan may be enhanced by certain medications such as cold and allergy medications, sleeping pills, narcotic pain medications, and medications for seizures, muscle relaxation, anxiety, or depression.

b. Dizziness:

Ativan causes dizziness in approximately 7 percent of the patients taking it. This effect can increase the likelihood of falls and other accidental injuries.

c. Insomnia:

Ativan use can cause insomnia in some patients, which is characterized by difficulty in falling asleep or remaining asleep throughout the night.

d. Forgetfulness:

Forgetfulness caused by Ativan may be mild or severe, and can vary depending on the dose prescribed to the patient. Memory disruptions manifests as poor recall of events under Ativan use.

e. Impaired thinking:

The speed and clarity of the normal thought process is considerably affected by Ativan in some cases. Patients taking Ativan may feel mentally slow.

f. Aggression, anxiety, and agitation:

Although rare, Ativan causes aggression, anxiety, and agitation in some patients. This effect is reduced upon discontinuation of the drug.

g. Unsteadiness:

Approximately 3 percent of the patient taking Ativan may experience Unsteadiness. Also, the likelihood of experiencing unsteadiness increases with age.

h. Drug dependence:

Ativan can be habit-forming, causing physical as well as psychological discomfort in patients using it for a long period of time. The FDA has recommended limiting the use of Ativan for a period of 2 to 4 weeks. Patients who develop physical dependence may experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, hallucinations, abdominal cramps, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, sensitiveness to light and sound, heart palpitations, and numbness or tingling sensation in the extremities.

2. Cardiovascular side effects:

Side effects on the cardiovascular system caused by Ativan is uncommon. These uncommon side effects include low or high blood pressure, irregular heart rate, easy bleeding or bruising, swollen feet or legs, sensation of heart pounding in the chest, and cardiovascular collapse. Cardiovascular collapse may be life threatening, which involves loss of blood flow in to the body.

3. Gastrointestinal side effects:

Gastrointestinal side effects are common with Ativan use. They include nausea and dry mouth. Less common side effects include loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, increased salivation, constipation, vomiting, stomach disorder, heartburn, liver problems and diarrhoea.

4. Reproductive and Urinary side effects:

Side effects caused by Ativan to reproductive and urinary systems are uncommon, which include changes in menstrual period, altered sexual interest, dark urine, incontinence, and retaining urine.

5. Skin-related issues:

Skin related side effects caused by Ativan is uncommon, and include yellowed skin, rash, sweating, skin inflammation, hives, itching, and hair loss. Pain and burning at the site of injection is another common side effect of Ativan.

6. Other side effects:

Apart from the above mentioned side effects, other rare side effects caused by Ativan includes low body temperature, enlarged breasts in male, muscle problems, hiccups, stuffy nose, fever, infection, periods of stopped breathing, respiratory failure, decreased rate and quality of breathing, allergic reactions, low granulocyte, low white blood cell levels, and elevations of various blood enzymes.

Abrupt withdrawal of Ativan may cause drug dependence and withdrawal symptoms in patients. To avoid withdrawal symptoms, the dose of Ativan should be reduced gradually over a period of time.


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