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Diazepam: uses, precautions and side effects of this drug

Diazepam: uses, precautions and side effects of this drug

May 3, 2024

Of all the benzodiazepines in the pharmacological market, the diazepam is the one that has achieved the most fame since in the 50s the Polish chemist Leo Henryk Sternbach synthesized it for the first time.

In this article we will discuss the uses of this drug when treating various physical and psychological conditions, as well as the side effects and precautions that should be taken by those who take it.

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What is diazepam?

Diazepam, popularly known as Valium , is a medicine of the benzodiazepine group.

Roughly, benzodiazepines they are psychotropic drugs, that is to say, that their focus of action is the central nervous system . Its sedative, anxiolytic and muscle relaxant properties, among many others, are used to treat anxiety states, sleep disturbances, withdrawal problems or muscular disorders.

However, in the case of diazepam its properties are much more specific. These are:

  • Anxiolytic properties : decreases the symptoms of anxiety.
  • Muscle relaxants: decreases tonicity, tension or contraction of muscles.
  • Anticonvulsant : combat, avoid and prevent seizures or epileptic seizures.
  • Sedative : tranquilizing and somnolent effects.

Diazepam has been constituted as one of the most used benzodiazepines due to its high effectiveness , both at the anxiolytic level and in the treatment of muscle spasms; being one of the most administered and prescribed drugs in this category.

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How does it act?

Like the rest of benzodiazepines, diazepam it is a central nervous system depressant . Its focus of action are the neurons that are in these structures on which it exerts a reducing effect on nerve conduction, and can produce from sedative effects to coma, depending on the amount administered.

Its main mechanism of action lies in favoring and increase the inhibitory potential of the neurotransmitter known as gamma aminobutyric acid or GABA ; acting on the limbic system, the thalamus and the hypothalamus.

One of its main advantages is that it does not affect or block the peripheral autonomic nervous system, so it does not produce any type of extrapyramidal side effect.

In what cases is it administered?

Given its multiple actions, diazepam has been established as the medication of choice for a large number of conditions and disorders both psychological and physical.

Since it is mainly known for its anxiolytic effects, its administration contexts are those related to the treatment of anxiety, psychosomatic affections, panic attacks or sleep problems such as insomnia.

As for the rest of cases or conditions, diazepam is indicated in cases of:

  • Vertigo .
  • Seizures and muscle spasms.
  • Sedation prior to surgery .
  • Delirium tremens.
  • Dyspnoea or breathing problems.
  • Paraneoplastic syndrome

Finally, thanks to its properties as a muscle relaxant , is highly recommended in cases of spasticity in which any type of condition such as paraplegia or paralysis, cause a permanent contraction of some muscle groups.

What is your dosage?

The most used form of administration in this medicine is orally in the form of tablets, capsules or a concentrated liquid solution of prolonged release. Also, also it is possible that in certain cases it is administered intravenously , always from a health professional.

Although the recommended dose of diazepam is usually between 5 and 10 milligrams daily, it is necessary to adjust to the indications of the specialist doctor. Which will agree the necessary dose according to the individual response of each patient.

However, the maximum dose of diazepam does not exceed 20 milligrams per day, since the patient is at risk of overdosing , with all the harmful effects that entails.

Due to its own characteristics, the increase of the dose on its own account, or the administration of diazepam for longer than required, may cause tolerance or diminution of its effects and, therefore, dependence on this drug .

Therefore, as discussed above, the patient must follow in a firm and precise manner all the indications provided by the healthcare professional, with whom he should contact in case any type of doubt arises in relation to the medication. or with any aspect of the treatment.

Side effects

Among the list of most common side effects of diazepam are:

  • Fatigue .
  • Drowsiness.
  • Dizziness .
  • Sensation of weakness
  • Gastric problems such as stomach pain or diarrhea.

On the other hand there are a number of undesirable effects that are much less common but in which it will be necessary to contact the relevant professional immediately:

  • Constipation.
  • Alterations in appetite .
  • Problems urinating.
  • Alterations in vision.
  • Alterations in the libido.
  • Fever .
  • Convulsive crisis.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Tremors .
  • Motor alterations.
  • Rash .
  • Abnormal palpitations

Finally, there have been cases of paradoxical adverse reactions such as overexcitation, irritation and cholera; mainly when diazepam is administered in children and elderly people.

What precautions or contraindications are there?

Like the rest of benzodiazepines, patients must take into account a series of precautions when taking a drug such as diazepam .

First of all, the patient has the obligation to inform his doctor in the case of consuming any other type of medication or drug, as well as his alcoholic habits; in order to avoid any kind of unwanted interaction.

After a long time of treatment, the patient should not stop taking diazepam suddenly , just as once it has finished it must be withdrawn gradually. Otherwise they may suffer a risk of rebound effect characterized by nervousness and extreme alteration. In addition, after its abrupt withdrawal may also appear depression and sleep problems. In any case, you have to follow the doctor's instructions.

In cases in which the patient is pregnant, the administration of diazepam in the first and third trimesters is not recommended. As well as during the period of lactation since this can be transferred to breast milk, causing in the infant effects such as sedation, alterations in appetite and weight loss.

Finally, although these effects are subject to the amount of diazepam administered and the sensitivity of each patient, it is necessary to take precautions When driving any type of vehicle or machinery that requires the complete attention or concentration of the person. The sedative and somnolent effects of diazepam make it practically incompatible with any of these activities or practices.

Diazepam: Psychotropic Drug to Treat Anxiety, Seizures, and Muscle spasm (May 2024).

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