What Is Clorazepate Dipotassium?

wiseGEEK Writer

Clorazepate dipotassium is a medication principally used to treat seizure disorders, anxiety, muscle spasms, and sleeplessness. It belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines, which are known for the ease with which they create drug dependence. This drug is only meant to be used as prescribed, and there are many warnings about taking it. It also has side effects and drug interactions, and the presence of certain conditions may contraindicate its use.

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Benzodiazepines like clorazepate dipotassium can work very effectively because they swiftly act on GABA receptors, which control a variety of brain functions. Unfortunately, consistent use of these drugs builds tolerance, necessitating higher medication doses. Dependence may also occur, and doctors must taper off dosage if patients have used the medicine for over a month. To avoid these problems, the drug is often used for very short periods of time.

An important warning about this medication is that it can cause suicidal thinking. Anyone taking clorazepate dipotassium should alert doctors at once if suicidal or hopeless feelings occur. Additionally, the drug has been consistently linked to birth defects. Women who are pregnant or who want to become pregnant should not use it.

Side effects associated with clorazepate include dry mouth, sleepiness, and stomach problems. Some people feel dizzy or forgetful when they take this drug. Others may report headaches, rash, or blurring of vision. A few more benign adverse effects are balance problems, weakness in the muscles, and irritability.

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In addition to suicidality, serious side effects of clorazepate dipotassium include strong confusion or pronounced twitching of the muscles. Some people notice that urinary output is significantly reduced. Allergy to the drug is possible, and people who have allergies to other benzodiazepines should not take clorazepate. Any serious side effects need immediate medical attention.

There are many potential drug interactions with clorazepate dipotassium. Drugs like opioids, barbiturates, antihistamines or psychiatric medications can increase its sedating effects. To avoid dangerous reactions, people should make sure to discuss all the medications they use with the prescribing physician. Alcohol use isn’t recommended either, since it may cause oversedation.

Certain medical conditions may rule out clorazepate’s use. Pregnancy and glaucoma are two examples. Other conditions mean dosage has to be carefully considered. People with kidney or liver disease, and seizure disorders may need different doses. Breathing problems like asthma, or a patient history of alcoholism or depression should be considered carefully when determining the appropriateness or the dosage of this medication.

Despite the many side effects and warnings, it's important to remember that not all patients experience adverse reactions. There are many times when clorazepate dipotassium works well with few side effects. For some patients, it is the most useful and appropriate treatment choice.

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