Diazepam also known as Valium, is a type of medicine called a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are used for their sedative and anxiety-relieving effects. Diazepam works by acting on receptors in the brain called GABA receptors. Diazepam causes the release of a neurotransmitter called GABA in the brain.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are stored in nerve cells in the brain and nervous system. They are involved in transmitting messages between the nerve cells. GABA is a neurotransmitter that acts as a natural 'nerve-calming' agent. It helps keep the nerve activity in the brain in balance, and is involved in inducing sleepiness, reducing anxiety and relaxing muscles.As diazepam increases the activity of GABA in the brain, it increases its calming effect and results in sleepiness, a decrease in anxiety and relaxation of muscles.Diazepam has several uses. Firstly, it can be used to calm severe anxiety and agitation. For example, benzodiazepines such as diazepam are effective at quickly reducing the symptoms of anxiety and agitation that occur in a manic episode of the psychiatric illness, bipolar affective disorder. A benzodiazepine may be given as part of the initial treatment of a manic episode, though they are not licensed specifically for this purpose. Benzodiazepines help calm the individual while the main medicines for this condition (mood stabilizers) begin to take effect.Oral forms of diazepam are also used for short-term treatment of severe anxiety associated with insomnia, as well as for night terrors and sleep-walking in children. Diazepam decreases the time taken to fall asleep and nocturnal awakenings, as well as increasing the total amount of time spent sleeping. However, it is only suitable for short-term treatment of insomnia and anxiety as it has a high potential for dependence and addiction.
As diazepam remains active in the body for many hours, drowsiness may also persist into the next day.Diazepam is also given for its sedating and anxiety-relieving effects as a pre-med before surgery or medical investigations or procedures and to alcoholics during acute alcohol withdrawal.The second main use of diazepam is in controlling convulsions, for example epilepsy, or seizures associated with fever in children (febrile convulsions). It is particularly useful for controlling repeated epileptic fits when a patient does not recover consciousness between fits (status epilepticus). Diazepam helps control convulsions because the increased activity of GABA that it causes in the brain helps to calm excessive electrical nerve activity that is responsible for causing seizures.A further use of diazepam is in controlling muscle spasms due to tetanus or poisoning.Diazepam may be given as tablets, oral solution, injection or a rectal solution, depending on what condition is being treated.
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy. If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the drug's manufacturer. For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
It is important to tell your doctor or pharmacist what medicines you are already taking, including those bought without a prescription and herbal medicines, before you start treatment with this medicine. Similarly, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medicines while taking this one, to ensure that the combination is safe.
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