Among muscle relaxing drugs, baclofen is a commonly prescribed medication to provide relief from spasms, pains and muscular pull. Baclofen regulates a few neuro-transmitting substances and reduces muscular excitement. The drug’s action mirrors a chemical known as gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA); this chemical decreases nerve activity and minimizes stimulations of nerves responsible for muscular excitement. The food and drug administration (FDA) has approved this drug in mid-1970s. But, is this drug safe? You need to know how safe it is before commencing your treatment plan.

Multiple sclerosis or disorders in your spinal cord can cause a few muscular discomforts like pain, spasticity of muscles, stiffness or spasms, and can also make muscles to turn rigid. Baclofen is a muscle relaxer; it is taken orally or can be injected in the spinal cord area.

Safe use of baclofen

It is safe to start taking this drug at very low dosage level; dosages of 5 milligrams (mg) are administered, to start with. Initially, such low doses are given thrice each day. Once your body gets used to the active ingredients of this drug, doses are increased gradually. You need to remember that the maximum permissible dosage level is never more than 80 mg within a span of 24 hours.

It is essential to tell your treating doctor about the other drugs you are presently taking. It is a safe practice to make a list of all meds that you are currently consuming. In this list, make sure to include prescription drugs, over the counter (OTC) medications, vitamins, herbal supplements as well as dietary aids.

Intake of tricyclic antidepressants along with muscular relaxants like baclofen

In general, baclofen is known to reduce normal brain activity. So, co-administration of antidepressants of the tricyclic genre along with baclofen can lead to acute spells of weakness and tiredness. If your current medication plan includes intake of drugs like amitriptyline or other similar drugs, your medical team needs to know about it.

Co-administration of baclofen with diabetic meds

As another safety precaution, you need to know that baclofen can enhance the sugar levels in your blood stream. Those who are living with conditions like diabetes mellitus or other blood sugar related disorders must inform their prescribing physician about such diseases. It is a good practice to alter or minimize the dosage levels of diabetic medications while you are taking baclofen.

MAO inhibiting drugs and baclofen

You may also need to stay away from taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO inhibiting meds) while using baclofen. Intake of these two drugs together can result in mood shifts, including depression, weird thoughts or dreams as well as hallucinations. A few users reported dullness, drowsiness as well as a severe drop in blood pressure levels (hypotension). The typical signs of low blood pressure are sweating, tremors and acute headaches, passing out or fainting. Upon observing one or more of these symptoms, it is important to seek needful medical attention on an emergency basis. Examples of MAO inhibiting meds include phenelzine or other similar drugs.

A few discomforts baclofen is likely to trigger

This drug is generally regarded as safe to consume among adults. It is however not given to children aged 12 or below. Similarly, aged people or elderly patients may develop a few allergies or may turn hypersensitive to baclofen. So, the dosage levels for older patients are moderated to suit their age as well as other medical conditions. In case of younger adults – i.e., those aged above 14 years, you need to talk to a child specialist or a pediatrician prior to administering this drug. Baclofen may cause a few adverse side effects; most common adverse reactions or side effects are fits, convulsions, dizziness, being in a drowsy state, migraines, hypotension (drop in blood pressure levels) and a few abdominal discomforts like vomiting, nausea or pain in lower abdomen, etc.

Some people have also reported improper bowel movements leading to difficulties to pass stools (constipation), insomnia and a few sleep-associated disorders, being in a confused frame of mind as well as frequent urges to urinate. Most of these side effects or discomforts may disappear on their own i.e., as soon as your system gets used to the drug. If you notice one of more of these side effects persisting for long, it is important to seek medical care as quickly as you possibly can.

Sudden discontinuation of this muscular relaxant

Your medical team will tell you not to stop taking this drug without telling your doctor. A sudden discontinuation of baclofen can start withdrawal related problems. If you have been taking the oral form of baclofen, sudden stoppage of doses may result in fits, epileptic seizures, convulsions or weird thoughts as well as dreams. In case you have been taking shots of baclofen, an abrupt stoppage of doses can trigger high levels of spasticity or muscular rigidity, increase in body temperature, etc. In some cases, a complete breakdown of muscles has been observed; this can lead to fatal outcomes due to failure of vital organs like kidneys.

You need to know the above reactions or adverse side effects do not represent a complete list. It is possible to witness a few other adverse reactions. Upon witnessing any such outcomes, you need to quickly consult your treating physician. Those living in the US need to call 911 immediately; you can also call the helpline numbers of the food and drug administration. In Canada, adverse effects of baclofen need to be reported to Health Canada; this agency can also support you with needful medical care and attention. It is also a safe practice to reach out to a poison control center situated closer to where you are living.

In sum, it is safe to take baclofen at low dosage levels – to start with. The typical starting dose is 5 mg per day. If your body does not develop any major side effects, doses are boosted in a gradual manner. It is important to keep your doctor informed of other drugs that you are taking. Upon witnessing any major side effects such as respiratory problems or loss of coordination

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