Lorazepam: uses and side effects of this drug
The effects of anxiety states maintained in the long term can put an emotional strain on the patient and also interfere in all aspects of daily life. In order to avoid its symptoms and the consequences that this entails, intervention through psychological and pharmacological therapy is essential.
Benzodiazepines are the pharmacological treatments of choice in these cases. Within this group is lorazepam , which presents numerous advantages when accompanying a psychological therapy, providing the patient with support for recovery.
- Related article: "Benzodiazepines (psychodrugs): uses, effects and risks"
What is lorazepam?
Lorazepam is a tranquilizer and anxiolytic drug corresponding to the category of high-potency benzodiazepines ; to which five basic properties are attributed:
- Sedative and hypnotic.
- Muscle relaxants.
This type of anxiolytics have the ability to stabilize the psychic state in a way that does not harm or interfere with the activities or daily tasks of the person who takes it.
Also, one of the advantages that lorazepam offers to other types of benzodiazepine is that this acts on the emotional elements by eliminating them , so it cancels the tendency to suffer from disorders based on emotional and psycho-reactive load.
This quality makes it a medicine especially recommended at the time of accompany some type of psychological intervention , besides that it is combinable with other psychotropic drugs or antidepressant treatments.
- Related article: "Types of psychotropic drugs: uses and side effects"
Uses of this drug
The prescription of lorazepam is mainly limited to treatment of anxiety disorders and with the aim of alleviating, both short and long term, the symptoms that this alteration entails. More specifically in cases in which the symptoms interfere or limit the patient's life.
However, it is necessary for the clinical professional to review and evaluate the efficacy of the drug on a regular basis, since its use in a chronic way has not been validated by the clinical studies and, in addition, Lorazepam is likely to cause dependence in the person both physical and psychological.
Likewise, lorazepam is also recommended for the treatment of many other diseases or conditions. These include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome .
- Treatment of nausea and vomiting induced by cancer treatment.
- Management of agitation caused by withdrawal syndrome.
Method of administration and dose
The two formats in which lorazepam can be found are in tablets or in concentrated liquid solution to be taken orally. The usual dose is restricted to two or three daily doses , that is to say 2.5 mg of product approximately.
However, in order to achieve the best possible results it is recommended that the medical professional establish the frequency of administration and duration individually. Likewise, if it is necessary to increase the daily dose, it is necessary to proceed progressively, eliminating the possible side effects.
Because of the high tolerance that this drug generates, it is advisable that lorazepam be used only in short periods of between two and four weeks . In this way, the risk of physical dependence caused by its long-term consumption is also eliminated, and with it the withdrawal symptoms that this generates. These symptoms are:
- States of anxiety .
- Alteration of the senses.
- Dysphoria .
- Psychosis and seizures (in the least of cases).
Side effects of lorazepam
As with most medications, regardless of the action or purpose they have, lorazepam can also be accompanied by a series of side effects and risks.
While these adverse effects do not have to appear in all people , it is important to be able to recognize them and thus modify the doses or change to another type of benzodiazepines.
These side effects can be classified as: very frequent, frequent, rare, rare, very rare or of not established frequency.
1. Very frequent
- Sedation .
- Feeling tired.
- Drowning sensation
- Muscular weakness .
- Feeling confused .
- Alterations in libido .
- Descent of orgasms.
Agitation . Erections
5. Very rare
- Allergic reactions of the skin.
- Lack of sodium .
- Alterations in the secretion of the antidiuretic hormone.
- Hypotension .
- Increase in bilirubin levels .
- Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
- Increase in transaminases and phosphatase.
- Thrombocytopenia or decrease in the number of platelets in the blood.
- Agranulocytosis or decrease in the number of neutrophils in the blood.
- Pancytopenia or reduction of all blood cells.
- Paradoxical reactions such as anxiety.
- Depression of the central nervous system.
- Respiratory problems .
In the event that the patient experiences any of the above adverse effects, it is advisable that he or she visit the doctor as soon as possible.
There are a number of indications or conditions to consider before starting a treatment of lorazepam, since this is not indicated for all types of people. In the following cases its consumption is not recommended or at least, the patient must be careful of the possible complications that this may cause .
The use of lorazepam is disapproved in people allergic to this active principle, as well as to any of the elements that are within this pharmaceutical specialty. The symptoms or adverse effects that the patient can suffer range from breathing difficulties or asthma attacks, to swelling, urticaria or anaphylactic shock.
Other cases in which the use of lorazepam is prohibited are when the person suffers from myasthenia gravis, severe breathing difficulties, sleep apneas or if you have severe liver disease.
It is necessary that the patient inform his doctor in the case that he is taking some other type of medication, including that which can be obtained without prescription, in order to avoid any possible interference or harmful effect to the organism as a result of the combination of drugs .
Likewise, it is necessary for the patient to know that both barbiturates and alcoholic beverages exert a depressant effect on the central nervous system, so if they are administered or taken together the sedative effects of the medication are accentuated considerably and harmful.
On the other hand, there are a number of special circumstances under which people should exercise caution when taking this medication, or not take it directly. These conditions include pregnancy and lactation; children, the elderly and physically weak patients, people with respiratory insufficiency and driving and using machinery.
1. Pregnancy and lactation
It is necessary for the patient to inform the medical staff if she is pregnant or if she intends to become pregnant, given that the consumption of benzodiazepines is associated with an increased risk of malformations in the fetus if it is administered during the first trimester of pregnancy.
In addition, if this drug is administered when the woman is in the late phase of pregnancy, it is possible that lorazepam causes a series of sequelae in the baby. These effects range from hypoactivity or hypothermia, to apnea and respiratory and feeding problems. Another adverse effect that lorazepam has on the baby is that it runs the risk of acquiring a physical dependence that ends in a postnatal dependency syndrome .
On the other hand, this medicine is highly contraindicated during the period of lactation. The effect of benzodiazepines secreted through breast milk may include sedative effects on the baby and inability to suckle.
2. Children, the elderly and patients with physical weakness
In no case should benzodiazepines be administered to children, except for very extreme conditions or illnesses, the duration of the treatment being as short as possible.
Also, given that the elderly and physically weak patients have a greater predisposition to suffer the effects of medication , it is recommended that they be administered in very low doses.
3. People with respiratory failure
As with the elderly or in a situation of physical weakness, patients with some type of respiratory insufficiency should also consume this drug in much lower doses, since the risk of suffering respiratory depression is much greater .
4. Driving and using machinery
Due to the sedative effects of lorazepam, people who need to drive vehicles or operate machinery must be prudent, since the medication can alter the ability to perform these tasks.