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are used in infants and children but with careful dosage adjustments based on
weight and age.
Benzodiazepines are minor tranquilizers
(sedatives) that prevent or stop seizures by slowing down the central nervous
system. This makes abnormal electrical activity less likely.
Clonazepam may be used to
diazepam and lorazepam are often used to treat prolonged
seizures or status epilepticus. Diazepam may
be used during short periods of increased, repeated, or prolonged seizures
(acute repetitive seizures) in people who are taking other antiseizure drugs
for long-term treatment.
In general, benzodiazepines are not
usually the first choice for long-term treatment of epilepsy. Although
clonazepam or clorazepate may be quite helpful for a few people, most people do
not respond very well to them over the long term.
use of diazepam to treat seizures can be very effective. Treatment with rectal
diazepam within 15 minutes of the beginning of a prolonged
seizure or a series of seizures usually ends the seizure activity.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor right away if you have:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
FDA Advisory. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has
issued an advisory on clonazepam and the risk of suicide. Talk
to your doctor about these possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide in adults and in children and teens.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is
not available in all systems.)
It may take time and careful,
controlled adjustments by you and your doctor to find the combination,
schedule, and dosing of medicine to best manage your epilepsy. The goal is to
prevent seizures while causing as few side effects as possible. After
you and your doctor figure out the medicine program that works best for you, make sure to follow your program exactly as prescribed.
Risks linked with long-term use. Long-term use
of benzodiazepines can sometimes lead to physical and psychological dependence
on the drug (addiction). Use of benzodiazepines may decrease seizures at first. But some people begin to have seizures again after using the drug for weeks or
months (tolerance). To control their seizures, they have to increase the dose,
which tends to increase side effects. Sudden withdrawal of the drug can cause
you to go into status epilepticus or may make your epilepsy worse.
Ease of use. For children or adults who have
occasional clusters of seizures (acute repetitive seizures) despite long-term
drug therapy, rectal diazepam may be a good choice for treating them
at home. It usually stops the series of seizures quickly, and family members
can treat the person at home safely and easily. Ending these types of
repetitive seizures can prevent status epilepticus and other problems
associated with prolonged seizures and can help families avoid emergency room
visits when a family member has a long history of acute repetitive
While taking benzodiazepines,
avoid alcohol or any other drugs that are central nervous system
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Taking medicines for epilepsy during pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects. If you are pregnant,
breast-feeding, or trying to get pregnant, talk to your doctor. Medicines may need to be
continued if your epilepsy is severe. Your doctor can help weigh the risks of
treatment against the risk of harm to your pregnancy.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
August 28, 2013
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
& Steven C. Schachter, MD - Neurology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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