Individuals who experience muscle spasms undergo pain and discomfort that can seriously impact routines. Various reasons are attributed to the spasms, and individuals with the condition often experience excruciating pain when the spasm is the result of spial cord injuries. Various medications are presently used for treating the condition, and baclofen is known to be effective in treating muscle spasticity, making it a popular choice. Available as tablets, as oral suspension in powder form and as injections, baclofen is in use since approval almost there decades ago. Here is a look at the side effects of baclofen and the best methods of preventing side effects associated with the medication.
Overview of baclofen and ideal dosage to prevent side effects of baclofen
To understand the side effects of baclofen it is necessary to learn more about the medication, its uses and ideal dosage. Belonging to the category of gamma-aminobutyric acid agonist, the skeletal muscle relaxant is used for treating multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries or diseases. When recommended for adults and youngsters as tablets for muscle relaxation, the maximum permitted dosage is not to exceed 80 mg per day under any circumstances. Importantly, the dosage always begins with a safe dose of 5 mg, thrice a day and this is gradually increased by 5 mg, every third day. This gradual increase of dosage is carefully planned in a manner so as to achieve the desired outcome of the medication. When recommended for use by children, the dosage is determined by the treating specialist, on the basis of the specific condition and the age of the patient. When recommended to be administered as oral suspension for adults and children above the age of twelve, the same broad limits apply.
Commonly reported side effects of baclofen
Side effects of medications are often classified into commonly occurring side effects and rare occurring side effects. Typically, the commonly occurring side effects are moderate in nature in most cases are known to resolve without the need for medical intervention. The rarely occurring side effects are typically serious in nature and may require medical intervention depending on the intensity of the condition. Here is a look at the commonly reported side effects of baclofen.
Patients are known to experience some form of confusion when on the medication. As a result of the mechanism of action of baclofen, individuals are likely to have bouts of constipation. The urge to pass urinate may be experienced more frequently among individuals, that is not attributed to any particular reason. Among the common side effects of baclofen, difficulty in sleeping can cause discomfort among individuals. There is the possibility of patients feeling lightheaded or feeling faint when raising from a reclining or resting position. Individuals are advised to slowly raise from a seated or resting position to avoid dizziness and the lightheaded feeling. Headaches are also associated with the medication, and patients are known to sweat profusely when on baclofen. Additionally, patients may experience abnormal or unusual fatigue that is not attributed to any condition.
Side effects of baclofen that are less common in nature
Here is a compilation of side effects of baclofen that are less common in nature. These side effects could be cause for concern as it may require medical intervention at some point in the future, if left unattended. For instance, patients may experience pain in the chest that is not attributed to any other condition. There is also the possibility of discoloration of the urine, which could be dark in color or have traces of blood. Patients may experience an unusual ringing sensation in the ears or some form of buzzing.
Individuals may undergo depression when on the medication or experience wild mood swings that could impact behavior or social conduct. Other effects that could be witnessed may be the possibility of seeing or imaging things/conditions that are actually not present. This may or may not be accompanied by fainting. Finally, the outbreak of rashes on the skin is a possibility, that may require some of treatment to control or mitigate the condition.
Side effects of baclofen due to incorrect dosage
In many cases, the side effects of baclofen are attributed to incorrect dosage. It is essential to follow the recommended dosage diligently to avoid side effects from overdose. Here is a compilation of the commonly reported symptoms that are associated with overdose. Individuals on the medication who experience blurred vision in the period after taking baclofen need to check if the dosage was taken correctly. Similarly, patients who experience convulsions, or difficulty in breathing may also be experiencing outcomes of overdosage. Other symptoms that indicate possible overdose include drowsy feelings, or changes in breathing rhythm – either irregular or fast paced or slower. A feeling of lesser strength when compared to the period immediately preceding the dosage, or pain in the muscles are also indications of possible overdose. There could be a possible discoloration of the lips or the fingernails or skin as a result of incorrect dose. For instance, the lips may turn pale blue in color, that may indicate that the dosage is higher than required. Unusually dizzy and sleepy feelings could also indicate possible overdose.
Side effects of baclofen that are rare in nature
It is time to look at the side effects of baclofen that are rare in occurrence. These side effects require some kind of attention to prevent it from manifesting into more serious conditions. In certain instances, it may be necessary to seek urgent medical attention, depending on the condition and the severity of the side effect. For instance, patients may have bouts of diarrhea that may require some kind of mitigating treatment. Individuals are also known to lose appetite for no known or attributable reason. Pain in the stomach or the abdomen is also a rare side effect when the discomfort is acute in nature. Mild discomfort is relatively common, but acute discomfort is rare in occurrence. Intense pain in the muscles or joints are also rare side effects that may require some kind of medical attention. This is necessary to ensure that the patient does not end up with rhabdomyolysis.
A tingling sensation in the hands or the feet may also be experienced rarely and this may be an indication of other manifestations. Patients are more likely to exhibit clumsy behaviour as a result of medication – for instance, unsteady or poorly coordinated movements and actions may be experienced. The patient may sometimes experience a sense of well-being without any particular reason; this may not require medical attention or intervention, other than possible behavioral issues. Other rare side effects of baclofen include stiffness in the muscles, or pounding heartbeat. Patients may experience slurring when talking or have issues in articulating clearly. There is also the possibility of individuals experiencing stuffy nose, or swelling/inflammation in the ankles. Weight gain is a possibility associated with the medication in rare instances, that may require some form of exercise regimen to control weight gain. Individuals are also likely to feel excited for no apparent or logical reason.
Precautions to be taken to avoid side effects of baclofen
Similar to most medications, side effects of baclofen are often attributed to incorrect use and the lack of precautions. It is necessary to take sufficient precautions while on baclofen to prevent adverse effects. For instance, it is necessary to ensure that the progress and the outcomes of the medication are checked periodically by the treating specialist. This will help identify if the medication is working as desired and will also determine if there are any manifestations of side effects. The medication is not to be stopped abruptly as this could result in unwanted effects. The best method of discontinuing the medication is to gradually reduce the dosage and then discontinue it fully. Abruptly discontinuing the medication is known to result in side effects such as high fever, possible seizures and hallucinations. Individuals are also known to end up with rhabdomyolysis, a condition where the muscle tissue breaks down and releases a protein into the blood.
Other precautions required to prevent side effects of baclofen include the need to stay away from alcohol and other medications belonging to the category of CNS depressants. For instance, medications that have an impact on the central nervous system, that result in drowsiness, will have increased effect when taken along with baclofen. In other words, the effects associated with alcohol and CNS depressant will get magnified when taken with the medication. Medications that belong to this category include antihistamines, pain killers, medications used in dental procedures, sleeping tablets or sedatives, and medications for treating seizures. Patients on any of the above categories of medications are to seek medical advice from the treating specialist before taking baclofen.
Additionally, certain general precautions are to be followed to prevent side effects of baclofen. For instance, the common effects of the medication include dizziness, impact on vision, and general drowsy feelings. Individuals are known to become relatively unsteady as a result of the medication. This makes it necessary for patients to exercise extreme caution or stay off duties that involve heavy machinery. Patients involved in activities that require a high state of alertness and quick reflexes are also advised to take a break when on the medication. The ability to achieve complete co-ordination is most likely to be affected and this makes it necessary to stay off responsibilities and tasks that require co-ordinated actions.
Finally, individuals are advised to periodically check blood sugar levels when on the medication as one of the side effects of baclofen is a change in blood sugar levels. Patients are to constantly monitor and report changes to the treating specialist. The use of the medication by pregnant women can cause neonatal withdrawal syndrome in babies. The commonly reported symptoms of this condition include tremors, an increase in muscle tone of babies, and possible seizures. Mothers witnessing any of these symptoms in newborn babies are to bring this to the notice of the treating specialist. All patients are advised to consult the doctor before taking any medications, or herbal supplements. Medications include over the counter formulations that are commonly used by individuals for frequently occurring conditions.