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What Factors Affect Diazepam Dosage?

Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Factors affecting diazepam dosage include the age of the patient, the patient's response to the drug, and the condition being treated. The recommended dose of this medication, which belongs to the benzodiazepine class, is additionally influenced by other medications or certain health conditions. Doses may change over time, and physicians often discontinue the drug through slow tapering off.

Age influences the maximum recommended diazepam dosage. Children older than six months usually don’t exceed 7.5-10 mg, split into three or four daily doses. Smaller amounts, at three to four milligrams per day, aren’t unusual.

Adult diazepam dosage tends not to exceed 40 mg per day in four equal doses. Total daily amount can be much smaller, and might be as low as five to eight milligrams a day. In adults over 65, the average dose more closely resembles suggestions for the pediatric population. Elderly patients might take a maximum of five to 10 mg per day.

Patient response to diazepam may greatly influence how much of it is used. The general rule is that the lowest effective dose is appropriate. In most cases, patients begin at very low doses and increase as needed, but only when an increase appears necessary.

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Users of this medication are expected to build tolerance to it. As such, diazepam dosage is likely to increase over time, especially for conditions like anxiety disorder. Long-term use of the drug, defined as over four months, isn’t encouraged, but there are many people who use the drug daily for years.

The medical or emotional conditions diazepam may treat include anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal, and muscle spasms. These may call for different dosing amounts. Contrary to most other dosing strategies, treatment for alcohol withdrawal starts with a high dose that decreases. Beginning doses are usually 40 mg per day, which are tapered to a 20 mg per day dose. For the other conditions mentioned, adult treatment may initiate at two to five milligrams and climb up to 40 milligrams over time.

Some medications might require diazepam dosage adjustment. Other drugs that have sedating properties like additional benzodiazepines, opioids, anticonvulsants, and antipsychotics may necessitate a lower dose amount or frequency. Some antacids like cimetidine and omeprazole, the antifungal drug ketoconazole, and common antidepressants such as fluoxetine and fluvoxamine directly interact with diazepam. In their presence, diazepam dosage must be smaller.

Impairment of the kidneys or liver also indicates that diazepam dosage should be lower. Although the medication is used in alcohol withdrawal, it’s important to make certain the person is not continuing to abuse alcohol. Diazepam and alcohol used together are a dangerous combination.

Daily use of diazepam for over a month creates strong risk of building a tolerance. If patients abruptly discontinue this medicine, they can experience benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. It can feature severe symptoms like convulsions. Patients should slowly taper off of this medication in order to avoid this syndrome.

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