In the US, it is estimated that a little under 6 percent of the adult population are on benzodiazepines. Statistics reveal that women outnumber men in terms of use, with twice the number of women taking the medications when compared with men. The use increased with age groups indicating the trend in prevalence of the conditions and the need for medication. Valium, belonging to the class of benzodiazepines, is considered as one of the popular medications for treating anxiety and various other related conditions. Like all medications, undesirable effects of Valium are a possibility along with the desired outcomes. Here is an in-depth look at the side effects of Valium to help mitigate and manage the effects.

Medication overview and side effects of Valium

Valium is typically used for treating a variety of conditions that include anxiety, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, skeletal muscle spasms, and seizures. Before we look at the side effects of Valium it is necessary to understand more about the medication and its mechanism of action. Valium, as a benzodiazepine, has anticonvulsant properties, is regarded as a sedative, and is a muscle relaxant. The medication, also has amnestic effects and is also an anxiolytic. The primary mechanism of action is attributed to its impact on an inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA, in the central nervous system.

The medication binds to the receptors in the spinal cord and in the brain. As a result of this binding action, the effects of GABA are known to increase significantly. As a result, individuals experience positive outcomes that include better sleep, and improvements among patients with epilepsy, memory, and control of hypnosis. The medication has a half-life that is biphasic in nature, with an extended terminal elimination that could stretch to two days. When the medication is administered on a long-term basis, the half life is further extended to almost 5 days. The medication and its metabolites are flushed out from the body through urine.

Ideal dosage to prevent side effects of Valium

One of the reasons for side effects of Valium is incorrect dosage. It is necessary to follow the prescribed dosages. The actual dose differs from condition to condition and is determined by various factors regarding the patient. Here are the average recommended dosages for various conditions. It is important to remember, that these dosages are average dosages only for the purpose of reference. Follow the specific dosages recommended by the specialist for your condition. The medication is available as a tablet in 2 mg, 5 mg and 10 mg strength.

When administered for patients with anxiety problems, the recommended dosage for adults below the age of 65 is between 2 mg to 10 mg, taken four times daily. Senior citizens above the age of 65 years are typically recommended 2 mg to 2.5 mg twice a day. In the case of children blow the 16 years, the recommended dosage is 1 mg to 2.5 mg thrice a day or four times daily. The medication is not recommended to be administered to children below the age of 6 months as adequate studies have not been conducted about the possible side effects of Valium on children below 6 months. For all age groups, the ideal dosage is always started with a low dose, followed by a gradual increase, depend on the patient’s response to the medication.

When the medication is administered for patients for treating alcohol withdrawal, the following dosages are recommended to prevent side effects of Valium. Adults up to the age of 65 are typically recommended 10 mg either three times per day or four times per day as the first dose. This is then gradually reduced to half, depending on the patient’s response to the medication and the withdrawal effects. For senior citizens above the age of 65 years, the recommended dosage is 2 mg to 2.5 mg taken twice daily. In all the conditions, treating specialists ensure that the levels of the benzodiazepine do not build up in the body to levels that are considered as toxic. This is achieved by carefully managing the dosage as required.

When Valium is recommended for patients with muscle spasms, the following dosages are recommended to prevent side effects of Valium. For adults up to the age of 65 years, the standard recommended dosage is between 2 mg to 10 mg, thrice daily. In the case of seniors above the age of 65 years, the dosage is reduced to 2 mg or 2.5 mg twice day. For children below the age of 17 years, the dosage is between 1 mg to 2.5 mg thrice daily. Similar dosages are recommended for individuals with epilepsy and seizures. It is essential to take the medication as prescribed as this will reduce the possibility of side effects of Valium.

The need to follow specialist recommendations to prevent side effects of Valium
Whenever a dose has been skipped unintentionally, it is necessary to avoid any attempt to make up for the skipped dose with a double dose. This will increase the levels of the medication in the body to possibly toxic levels. Among the side effects of Valium are the withdrawal effects that could be experienced when it is stopped abruptly. For instance, individuals may experience abnormal pain in the stomach, or cramps. There is a possibility of patients going through bouts of vomiting as a result of abrupt discontinuation of the medication. Some are likely to experience tremors, while others may experience extreme anxiety, tension and restlessness as a withdrawal symptom. Seizures are also a possibility, while many may experience some kind of confusion, or hallucinations. Withdrawal effects are heightened or amplified when the patient is on the medication for a longer period.

Why it is important to avoid taking dosages that are stronger than recommended

As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons for side effects of Valium are incorrect dosages or stronger dosages. This can result in adverse effects, including depression and an effect on the central nervous system. The commonly associated symptoms of such effects are drowsy feelings, feelings of tiredness, and an impact on the individuals reflex actions. The reflexes are likely to be affected, resulting in poor response. There is the possibility of individuals experiencing confusion, while others may end up with difficulties in breathing. For instance, there could be an abnormal slowing down of breathing, or stoppage of breathing. The more serious side effects of Valium in such circumstances are lowered blood pressure levels. This is extremely serious in nature, with the possibility of slipping to a coma. While this condition is rare, it is a possibility in a limited number of cases, depending on various conditions. It is therefore necessary to follow instructions diligently, and seek immediate medical intervention. In certain cases, the administration of flumazenil is a possibility to reverse the effects of Valium.

General warning association issued for the drug by regulatory authorities

To understand more about the side effects of Valium, it is necessary to learn of the standard/general warning issued for the drug. The medication comes with a black box warning which essentially means that the effects of the contents may be dangerous in certain cases. The medication, when taken with other opioid drugs can result in undesirable effects that include drowsiness. It is essential that the patient be monitored when the medication is taken along with an opioid. The medication is not to be stopped abruptly, as such discontinuation can result in withdrawal symptoms as the individual is likely to have developed dependence on the medication.

The possibility of misuse or addiction to the medication cannot be ruled out and it is therefore necessary to diligently follow the recommended doses. The medication also comes with a warning about its sedative effects. The ability of the individual to respond to a condition may be compromised to a certain extent. Patients are advised to desist from operating heavy machinery, or driving or taking up tasks that make it necessary for the individual to stay focused with quick reflexes.

Side effects of Valium possible allergies

The side effects of Valium include the possibility of allergic reactions. For instance, patients may experience difficulty in breathing, or the outbreak of rashes on the body. The individual may experience swelling in the throat or the tongue, with some ending up with hives. Patients who have recorded any kind of allergic reaction to the same class of medications earlier are strictly advised to stay away from the medication. While an allergy may appear as mild, it is important to know that in rare cases, allergic reactions followed by further doses can turn fatal in nature. Individuals with a history of allergies are also required to inform the same to the treating specialist, so that the dose and the response can be handled accordingly.

Other interactions and side effects of Valium

In addition to the above, there are other side effects of Valium that individuals need to be aware of, and take precautions accordingly. For instance, the consumption of grapefruit juice along with the medication can impact the ability of the liver to process the formulation. In other words, the medication will remain in the system longer, thereby exposing the individual to increased risk of side effects. The medication interacts with alcohol and can severely impair the ability of the patient in performing routine tasks. For instance, the individual may find it challenging to focus, to drive, to operate equipment and this can be a hazard at the workplace. The presence of alcohol in the body will prolong the presence of the medication in the body, and will expose the individual to side effects.

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