Lorazepam

Adult Medication
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This information from Lexicomp® explains what you need to know about this medication, including what it’s used for, how to take it, its side effects, and when to call your healthcare provider.

Brand Names: US

Ativan; LORazepam Intensol; Loreev XR

Brand Names: Canada

APO-LORazepam; Ativan; PMS-LORazepam; PRO-LORazepam; TEVA-LORazepam

Warning
  • This drug is a benzodiazepine. The use of a benzodiazepine drug along with opioid drugs has led to very bad side effects. Side effects that have happened include slowed or trouble breathing and death. Opioid drugs include drugs like codeine, oxycodone, and morphine. Opioid drugs are used to treat pain and some are used to treat cough. Talk with the doctor.
  • If you are taking this drug with an opioid drug, get medical help right away if you feel very sleepy or dizzy; if you have slow, shallow, or trouble breathing; or if you pass out. Caregivers or others need to get medical help right away if the patient does not respond, does not answer or react like normal, or will not wake up.
  • Benzodiazepines can put you at risk for addiction, abuse, and misuse. Misuse or abuse of this drug can lead to overdose or death, especially when used along with certain other drugs, alcohol, or street drugs. Addiction can happen even if you take this drug as your doctor has told you. Get medical help right away if you have changes in mood or behavior, suicidal thoughts or actions, seizures, or trouble breathing.
  • You will be watched closely to make sure you do not misuse, abuse, or become addicted to this drug.
  • Benzodiazepines may cause dependence. Lowering the dose or stopping this drug all of a sudden may cause withdrawal. This can be life-threatening. The risk of dependence and withdrawal are raised the longer you take this drug and the higher the dose. Talk to your doctor before you lower the dose or stop this drug. You will need to follow your doctor’s instructions. Get medical help right away if you have trouble controlling body movements, seizures, new or worse behavior or mood changes like depression or thoughts of suicide, thoughts of harming someone, hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there), losing contact with reality, moving around or talking a lot, or any other bad effects.
  • Sometimes, withdrawal signs can last for several weeks to more than 12 months. Tell your doctor if you have anxiety; trouble with memory, learning, or focusing; trouble sleeping; burning, numbness, or tingling; weakness; shaking; muscle twitching; ringing in the ears; or any other bad effects.

What is this drug used for?

  • It is used to treat anxiety.
  • It is used to treat seizures.
  • It is used to ease anxiety before surgery.
  • It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take this drug?

  • If you are allergic to this drug; any part of this drug; or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had.
  • If you have any of these health problems: Glaucoma, depression, or certain mental problems.
  • If you have sleep apnea or breathing problems.
  • If you have any of these health problems: Kidney disease or liver disease.
  • If you are breast-feeding. Some forms of this drug are not for use if you are breast-feeding.

This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with this drug.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take this drug with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take this drug?

All products:

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take this drug. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Talk with your doctor before you use marijuana, other forms of cannabis, or prescription or OTC drugs that may slow your actions.
  • Have your blood work checked if you are on this drug for a long time. Talk with your doctor.
  • Do not take this drug for longer than you were told by your doctor.
  • If you have been taking this drug for a long time or at high doses, it may not work as well and you may need higher doses to get the same effect. This is known as tolerance. Call your doctor if this drug stops working well. Do not take more than ordered.
  • If you are 65 or older, use this drug with care. You could have more side effects.
  • If the patient is a child, use this drug with care. The risk of some side effects may be higher in children. Not all products are for use in children.
  • This drug may cause harm to the unborn baby if you take it while you are pregnant. If you are pregnant or you get pregnant while taking this drug, call your doctor right away.
  • Taking this drug late in pregnancy may raise the chance of breathing or feeding problems, low body temperature, or withdrawal symptoms in the newborn. Talk with the doctor.

All oral products:

  • Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert until you see how this drug affects you.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while taking this drug.
  • If you are allergic to tartrazine (FD&C Yellow No. 5), talk with your doctor. Some products have tartrazine.

Injection:

  • Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for alertness for 1 to 2 full days after getting this drug and until the effects of this drug have worn off.
  • Do not try to get out of bed without help for at least 8 hours after you use this drug. You may fall and hurt yourself.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol for 1 to 2 full days after getting this drug.
  • Some products have benzyl alcohol. If possible, avoid products with benzyl alcohol in newborns or infants. Serious side effects can happen in these children with some doses of benzyl alcohol, including if given with other drugs that have benzyl alcohol. Talk with the doctor to see if this product has benzyl alcohol in it.

For a procedure:

  • Studies in young animals and children have shown that frequent or long-term use of anesthesia drugs or drugs used for sleep in children younger than 3 years of age may lead to long-term brain problems. This may also happen in unborn babies if the mother uses this drug during the third trimester of pregnancy. Talk with the doctor.

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • New or worse behavior or mood changes like depression or thoughts of suicide.
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there).
  • Change in balance.
  • Feeling confused.
  • Feeling nervous and excitable.
  • Restlessness.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • More interest in sex.
  • Memory problems or loss.
  • Very bad dizziness or passing out.
  • Change in eyesight.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Dark urine or yellow skin or eyes.
  • This drug may cause very bad and sometimes deadly breathing problems. Call your doctor right away if you have slow, shallow, or trouble breathing.

What are some other side effects of this drug?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

All products:

  • Feeling dizzy, sleepy, tired, or weak.
  • Headache.

Injection:

  • Irritation where the shot is given.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to your national health agency.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-332-1088. You may also report side effects at https://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

How is this drug best taken?

Use this drug as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

All oral products:

  • Take with or without food. Take with food if it causes an upset stomach.

Liquid (solution):

  • Use the dropper that comes with this drug to measure the drug.
  • Mix the liquid with water, juice, soda, applesauce, or pudding before taking it.
  • Swallow the mixture right away. Do not store for use at a later time.

Under the tongue (sublingual) tablet:

  • Place tablet under the tongue and let dissolve.
  • Do not swallow for at least 2 minutes after using this drug.

Extended-release capsules:

  • Take in the morning.
  • Swallow whole. Do not chew or crush.
  • If you cannot swallow this drug whole, you may sprinkle the contents of the capsule on 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of applesauce. If you do this, swallow without chewing. Drink some water after taking the dose. Take the dose within 2 hours after mixing. Do not store for future use.

Injection:

  • It is given as a shot into a muscle or vein.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

All oral products:

  • If you take this drug on a regular basis, take a missed dose as soon as you think about it.
  • If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time.
  • Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.
  • Many times this drug is taken on an as needed basis. Do not take more often than told by the doctor.

Injection:

  • Call your doctor to find out what to do.

How do I store and/or throw out this drug?

Tablets and extended-release capsules:

  • Store at room temperature in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.
  • Keep lid tightly closed.

Under the tongue (sublingual) tablet:

  • Store at room temperature protected from light. Store in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.

Liquid (solution):

  • Store in a refrigerator. Do not freeze.
  • Throw away any part not used after 3 months.
  • Protect from light.

Injection:

  • If you need to store this drug at home, talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about how to store it.

All products:

  • Store this drug in a safe place where children cannot see or reach it, and where other people cannot get to it. A locked box or area may help keep this drug safe. Keep all drugs away from pets.
  • Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.

General drug facts

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else’s drugs.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. If you have any questions about this drug, please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • This drug comes with an extra patient fact sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it with care. Read it again each time this drug is refilled. If you have any questions about this drug, please talk with the doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer

This generalized information is a limited summary of diagnosis, treatment, and/or medication information. It is not meant to be comprehensive and should be used as a tool to help the user understand and/or assess potential diagnostic and treatment options. It does NOT include all information about conditions, treatments, medications, side effects, or risks that may apply to a specific patient. It is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for the medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of a health care provider based on the health care provider’s examination and assessment of a patient’s specific and unique circumstances. Patients must speak with a health care provider for complete information about their health, medical questions, and treatment options, including any risks or benefits regarding use of medications. This information does not endorse any treatments or medications as safe, effective, or approved for treating a specific patient. UpToDate, Inc. and its affiliates disclaim any warranty or liability relating to this information or the use thereof. The use of this information is governed by the Terms of Use, available at https://www.wolterskluwer.com/en/know/clinical-effectiveness-terms.

Last Reviewed Date

2023-02-09

Copyright

© 2024 UpToDate, Inc. and its affiliates and/or licensors. All rights reserved.

Last Updated

Monday, December 12, 2022