Nitrazepam belongs to the class of medications called benzodiazepines. It is used for short-term treatment of sleeping problems (insomnia), such as difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings during the night, and early-morning awakening. It is also used to manage myoclonic seizures.It works by slowing down the nerves in the brain (the central nervous system).
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How should I use this medication?
The recommended adult dose of nitrazepam when taken for insomnia is 5 mg to 10 mg taken at bedtime.
Seniors may be more likely to experience unwanted effects of this medication and should start with 2.5 mg taken at bedtime.
The lowest effective dose should be used. It is important that the dose be individualized to your specific needs to avoid excessive drowsiness during the day time or motor impairment.
This medication is normally used for a short period of time or as an “as required” medication. As it may be habit-forming, the treatment period should be as short as possible and not usually longer than 7 to 10 consecutive days. If you need this medication for more than 2 to 3 weeks, consult your doctor for a re-evaluation of this medication.
When taken for treatment of myoclonic seizures, the dose is based primarily on body weight. The dose for children (up to 30 kg of body weight) ranges from 0.3 mg per kilogram of body weight to 1 mg per kilogram of body weight daily in 3 divided doses. Your doctor will calculate an appropriate dose.
Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here,do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
Nitrazepam may be habit-forming when taken for long periods of time. It may not be appropriate for people who have a history of alcohol or substance abuse.
If you have been taking this medication regularly for a long period of time (more than one month), do not stop taking the medication without speaking with your doctor. A gradual reduction in dose is recommended when stopping this medication to avoid withdrawal effects.
It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take this medication in a larger amount or for a longer period of time than prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a scheduled dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If you are taking nitrazepam for sleeping, do not take it if you will not be able to get a full night’s sleep (approximately 8 hours or more). This medication tends to make people disoriented, uncoordinated and unable to concentrate clearly until it has worn off. If you remember the missed dose during the daytime, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of reach of children.
Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Do not take nitrazepam if you:
are allergic to nitrazepam or any ingredients of this medication
are allergic to other benzodiazepines
are a child and using nitrazepam to treat insomnia
have myasthenia gravis
have severely decreased liver function
have sleep apnea
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
clumsiness or unsteadiness
false sense of well-being
increased watering of mouth
Although most of the side effects listed below don’t happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
behavioural changes, including aggressiveness, angry outbursts, bizarre behaviour, or decreased inhibitions
increased trouble sleeping
shortness of breath
signs of depression (e.g., poor concentration, changes in weight, changes in sleep, decreased interest in activities, thoughts of suicide)
unusual excitement, nervousness, or irritability
unusual tiredness or weakness (severe)
Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:
signs of a serious allergic reaction (i.e., abdominal cramps, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, or swelling of the face and throat)
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