Medication and Treatment Reviews

Valium

Generic Name: Diazepam

Uses

Valium, known as diazepam in its generic form, is a benzodiazepine primarily used for short-term relief from symptoms of anxiety disorders in children older than six months, adolescents, and adults. It may help relieve excessive worry, shortness of breath or heavy perspiration, feelings of edginess, and difficulty sleeping due to anxiety.

Valium can also be used to treat alcohol withdrawal, seizures, muscle spasms, or as a relaxing agent before medical procedures.

How to Use Valium

Before starting or refilling a diazepam prescription, read the medication guide included with your pills, as it may be updated with new information.

This guide should not replace a conversation with your doctor, who has a holistic view of your or your child’s medical history, other diagnoses, and other prescriptions. If you have questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist before you begin taking the medication.

Dosage

As with all medications, follow your Valium prescription instructions exactly. It is available in two formulations:

  • Diazepam Tablet: Taken orally 2 to 4 times daily. Tablets are available in 2mg, 5mg, and 10mg doses.
  • Diazepam Oral Solution: Taken mixed with liquid or soft food like applesauce or pudding. Use the calibrated dropper to measure the dosage. Take the full amount prescribed at once; do not pre-mix and store for future use. The solution contains small amounts of alcohol. Discuss how to use it safely with your doctor.

Do not drink alcohol while taking this medication; do not take it after eating a fatty meal; do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while taking this medication.

The dosage — 2mg to 10mg taken 1 to 4 times daily — varies depending on the condition treated, and age of the patient. Doctors may recommend starting with a lower dosage for elderly patients or patients with advanced liver or other debilitating disease who may be particularly sensitive to benzodiazepines.

The optimal dosage varies by patient; it is not determined by age, weight, or height, but rather by how a person metabolizes the medication. Your doctor may increase your dosage gradually until you or your child experiences the best response — that is, the lowest dosage at which you experience the greatest improvement in symptoms without side effects.

When discontinuing treatment, or decreasing dosage, patients should work with a doctor to gradually taper the level of medication. Stopping diazepam suddenly can create withdrawal symptoms, and seizure can occur.

Some patients develop a tolerance to diazepam. Do not increase the dosage without discussing it with your doctor. Your doctor should periodically reassess if the treatment is still useful. Long-term treatment with diazepam increases the risk of dependence, and may cause difficulty when terminating treatment. After an extended period without symptoms, a patient may work with his or her doctor to taper off the medication gradually.

Side Effects

The most common side effects of diazepam are similar to those associated with Lorazepam and other benzodiazepines, and are as follows: drowsiness, fatigue, loss of control over body movement, muscle weakness, and symptoms of dependence/withdrawal with long-term usage.

Other serious side effects include: confusion, depressive symptoms, difficulty speaking or slurred speech, headache, tremor, vertigo, constipation, nausea, blurred vision or double vision, dizziness, low blood pressure, altered sex drive, changes in mental state, difficulty urinating, skin rash, or dry mouth. If you stop taking diazepam suddenly, a seizure can occur.

Diazepam is a “Schedule IV” drug, a designation that the Drug Enforcement Agency uses for drugs with a low potential for abuse or dependence. Other Schedule IV drugs include Xanax, Ambien, and Ativan. People with a history of drug abuse should use caution when using this medication. Taking the medication exactly as prescribed can reduce potential for abuse.

Taking diazepam may impair your ability to drive, operate machinery, or perform other potentially dangerous tasks. This side effect usually wears off with time. If side effects are bothersome, or do not go away, talk to your doctor.

Most people taking this medication do not experience any of these side effects.

Disclose to your physician all mental health issues including any family history of suicide, bipolar illness, mania, or depression. Diazepam may create new or exacerbate existing behavior or mental problems. Call your doctor immediately if you or your child experiences new or worsening mental health symptoms including hallucinations or sudden suspicions. These adverse reactions are more common in children and the elderly.

Elderly or debilitated patients with impaired renal, hepatic, or pulmonary function should use caution and be observed closely when taking diazepam. Seek medical help right away if you experience yellowing eyes or skin, seizures, or signs of an allergic reaction.

The above is not a complete list of potential side effects. If you notice any health changes not listed above, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Precautions and Safety

Store Valium in a secure place out of reach of children, and at room temperature.

You should not take diazepam if you are sensitive to benzodiazepines, or have acute narrow angle glaucoma.

If you are thinking of becoming pregnant, you should not take diazepam, because there is a high potential for fetal harm, and increased risk of congenital. Diazepam is passed through breastmilk, so it is recommended that mothers do not nurse while taking it.

Interactions

Before taking Valium, discuss all other active prescription medications with your doctor. You should not take diazepam if you are taking the following medications, which can have a serious drug interaction:

  • Clozapine
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Sodium oxybate

Certain over-the-counter, prescription medications, and supplements can increase the risk of side effects or the levels of diazepam in the body including: alcohol, antihistamines, pain relievers, muscle relaxants, or other drugs that promote sleep and relieve anxiety.

Taking antacids can decrease the effectiveness of diazepam. Share a list of all vitamin or herbal supplements, and prescription and non-prescription medications you take with the pharmacist when you fill your prescription, especially any drugs that cause drowsiness. Let all doctors and physicians know you are taking diazepam before having any surgery or laboratory tests. The above is not a complete list of all possible drug interactions


Sources:
https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2008/013263s083lbl.pdf
https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/archives/fdaDrugInfo.cfm?archiveid=5424
https://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml

 

Tips for Good Medication and Treatment Reviews

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