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What is Triazolam?

C. K. Lanz
C. K. Lanz

Triazolam is a benzodiazepine-derived drug that is typically prescribed as a treatment for severe insomnia, including jet lag. It is a sedative that encourages sleep by slowing brain activity. This medication has a fast onset and a short half-life of two to four hours. Therefore it is most effective as a short-term treatment for between seven to 10 days for patients who have trouble falling asleep. The risk of dependence and withdrawal symptoms is much higher with this medication than with other benzodiazepines. Triazolam is available in tablet form and is taken as needed at bedtime on an empty stomach.

Taking triazolam will quickly make the patient extremely sleepy. It is not effective to take this medication if sleeping for seven to eight hours is not possible. Getting up too soon after taking it can cause memory problems. A patient’s sleep problems should improve within 10 days of starting treatment. Gradual withdrawal may be necessary to avoid severe symptoms like uncontrollable shaking, vomiting, and hallucinations.

Triazolam has been used to treat insomnia.
Triazolam has been used to treat insomnia.

A treatment of seven to 10 days is typical for this medication because of the increased risk of drug dependence and its hypnotic and amnesic properties. Several studies have linked this medication to a higher risk of psychiatric disturbances such as strange behavior and even violent reactions. This is likely the result of the drug’s high potency and brief half-life. A dose of more than 0.5 milligrams is considered unsafe by a majority of medical professionals.

Elderly patients, children, and individuals with a drug and alcohol dependency should proceed with caution before taking triazolam. As this medication can affect mood and behavior in unexpected ways, people with psychiatric disorders or mental illness should also refrain from triazolam treatment. Patients taking this drug should not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice.

Caffeine is known to reduce the effectiveness of triazolam. Ketoconazole and itraconazole react strongly with this drug. Individuals considering this treatment should discuss any vitamins or dietary supplements they are taking with their doctors prior to starting treatment.

Side effects include dizziness, headache, and problems with coordination. Patients may also experience nausea, vomiting, and nervousness. Some people may develop more serious side effects, such as hoarseness, hives, or swelling of the eyes and tongue. The poison control center or local emergency room should be contacted in case of overdose. The prescribing physician should be made aware of any side effects that manifest while taking triazolam.

In addition to its primary use as a sedative for insomnia, triazolam may also be used as an adjuvant with anesthesia. Airplane travelers are often given a dose to reduce the effects of jet lag but usually take a trial dose on the ground to see how they are affected by the medication prior to flying. Patients who experience severe anxiety during medical scans like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can also be given a dose of triazolam to calm them down.

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    • Triazolam has been used to treat insomnia.
      By: stefanolunardi
      Triazolam has been used to treat insomnia.