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What is Lorazepam?

Lorazepam is a prescription medication that helps manage anxiety. It belongs to the benzodiazepine category of drugs that acts on the brain and central nervous system (CNS) and produces a calming effect that relieves anxiety symptoms.

Lorazepam enhances the effect of specific natural substances in the body (GABA). This drug may also help treat insomnia. Insomnia is a medical condition that consists of poor quality of sleep or less sleep during a period. 

Important Information

Lorazepam can slow down or stop your breathing, especially if you were recently consuming alcohol, taking an opioid medicine, or other drugs that can slow down your breathing. 

Lorazepam increases gamma-aminobutyric acid availability (GABA) and acts quickly on the CNS (central nervous system). And doing so helps treat anxiety and short-term insomnia. Lorazepam is also helpful during surgery to interfere with memory formation and sedate mechanically ventilated patients. 

Neurotransmitters in the brain (GABA) are partly responsible for sleep regulation and relaxation, and anxiety feelings. This medicine acts on the receptors to slow down the CNS (central nervous system). 

What to know before taking Lorazepam?

You should avoid taking Lorazepam in any form if you are allergic to it or if you have a medical past of allergic reaction to any benzodiazepine (alprazolam, Lorazepam, Klonopin, diazepam, Tranxene, Restoril, versed, valium, xanax, and others)

To ensure Lorazepam is safe for you, tell your medical healthcare provider if you have ever had drug or alcohol addiction, kidney or liver disease, mood problems, depression, or suicidal thoughts/behavior, glaucoma, or seizures.

Consult your medical healthcare provider before taking this drug if you have any breathing problems like sleep apnea (breathing stops during sleep) or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Tell the medical healthcare operator if you are pregnant or your plan to conceive. Lorazepam, in all its forms, may harm an unborn baby. 

Avoid the use of Lorazepam during the first trimester of pregnancy. If you are using Lorazepam during pregnancy, then you could give birth to a drug-dependent baby. It can cause severe life-threatening withdrawal issues in the newborn baby. A baby born dependent on such a habit-forming medicine as Lorazepam may need treatment for several weeks. 

Breastfeeding may also be unsafe while using this medicine. Consult your doctor regarding risks. 

If you are breastfeeding, inform the doctor if you notice fussiness or drowsiness in the nursing baby. Lorazepam is not under the recommendation for use by anyone younger than 12 years old. 

How to take Lorazepam?

Take Lorazepam precisely as per the doctor’s prescription. Read carefully and follow the directions on the prescription label, medication guides, or instruction sheets.

Never use this drug with someone else, especially someone with a past of drug abuse or addiction.

Misuse of Ativan can cause overdose, addiction, or death. It is against the lawful act to give away or sell this medicine. 

Never use Ativan in smaller or larger amounts than recommended. If you feel an increased desire to use more of this medicine, you must inform your doctor. 

Carefully measure the liquid medication. Use the dosing syringe or a medicine dose-measuring device. 

Do not take any medicine like Lorazepam for more than four months unless your medical healthcare provider asks you. 

Check with your medical healthcare provider if there is no improvement in your symptoms or if they get worse. You may often need frequent medical tests if you are using this medicine for the long term. 

Do not suddenly stop taking Lorazepam; otherwise, you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Before tapering your dose, talk to the doctor. 

Store Lorazepam away from heat and moisture at room temperature. 

Keep track of your drug. Be aware if anyone is improperly using it or taking it without a prescription. 

Lorazepam dosage

Your Lorazepam dosage will depend upon your age, the severity of your medical condition, your response to the initial phase of treatment with Lorazepam, other medical conditions you have (if you have any), and other medications you are taking.

Usual Lorazepam dosage for anxiety disorders:

  • Usual initial dose- 2 mg to 3 mg oral tablet once within every 8 to 12 hours as needed. Do not exceed 10 mg per day.
  • Maintenance amount- 2 mg to 6 mg per day orally divided once every 8 to 12 hours. 
  • Geriatric dosage- Doctors usually recommend the lower initial dose of 1 mg to 2 mg orally divided once every 8 to 12 hours.

Usual Lorazepam dosage for short-term treatment of insomnia:

  • 2 mg to 4 mg administered orally before you go to sleep
  • Geriatric dosage- Doctors usually recommend the lower initial dose of 0.5 mg to 1 mg orally at bedtime, increase or decrease as needed. To avoid over-sedation, the initial regular amount of this medicine you take should not exceed 2 mg. 

Overdose

In case of an overdose, take urgent medical help or call the Poison helpline at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of Lorazepam can be deadly if you take it with other opioid medications, alcohol, or other treatments that can make you drowsy or slow down your breathing. 

Overdose symptoms of Lorazepam may include confusion, extreme drowsiness, feeling restless, slurred speech, loss of coordination or balance, muscle weakness, slow heartbeats, feeling light-headed, shallow or weak breathing, or coma. 

What to avoid while using Lorazepam?

Avoid alcohol consumption because it can cause serious side effects, or death could occur. 

Avoid driving any vehicle, using heavy machinery, or performing any hazardous activity that requires alertness until you know how Lorazepam will affect your health. Drowsiness or dizziness can cause accidental falls or severe injuries. 

Lorazepam side effects

Lorazepam may slow or stop your breathing, especially if you have been recently taking alcohol, an opioid medication, or other such medications that can slow down your breathing. Your attendant or caregiver should ask for medical help if you have weak or shallow breathing, if you stop breathing, or if you are hard to wake up. 

Immediately check with your doctor if you have any of the following severe side effects:

  • Unusual change in mood or behavior;
  • Severe drowsiness;
  • Thoughts or hurting yourself or suicide;
  • Sudden excitement or restless feeling;
  • Sleep problems (insomnia or sleep apnea);
  • Aggression, confusion, hallucinations;
  • Dark urine, or jaundice; or
  • Vision changes

The sedative effect of Lorazepam may last longer in older adults. Older patients who are taking benzodiazepines are likely to face accidental falls. Use caution to avoid any accidental injury or falling. Common side effects of Ativan that do not require instant medical help may include weakness, dizziness, drowsiness, or feeling unsteady.

What drugs can interact with Lorazepam?

Taking Lorazepam with other medications can cause sleepiness or slow down your breathing leading to dangerous and deadly side effects. Consult any of your medical healthcare providers before taking a muscle relaxer, opioid medication, prescription cough medicine, a sleeping pill, or medicine for seizure (or convulsions) or depression. 

Tell your medical healthcare provider about other medications you use, especially: aminophylline, probenecid, theophylline, any other treatment for anxiety, any drug to treat medical illness, medications that contain antihistamines (such as cold or allergy medicine, sleep medication), or any seizure therapy.