Nitrazepam is a benzodiazepine with long-acting characteristics. The product has an immediate onset and can be used for treating conditions like seizures, insomnia, severe anxiety, and panic disorders. The drug is used as a hypnotic and anticonvulsant.
How to use Nitrazepam
The drug is used for treating short-term insomnia. So, you can use it if you find it difficult to fall asleep. Those who wake up frequently during the night can also find help with the drug and those who wake up too early in the morning.
How it works
Nitrazepam is a benzodiazepine and it is a very powerful drug. It works as a hypnotic drug and has a very strong ability to relax skeletal muscles. It equally has strong anticonvulsant, amnesic, anxiolytic, and sedative properties. The drug can lengthen the time you spend sleeping and shorten the time required to fall asleep.
You can also use the drug for managing myoclonic seizures. The drug binds to the Benzodiazepine receptors in the brain to promote the activity of the GABA receptor. GABA is a neurotransmitter in the brain that leads to the following:
- Depression in the central nervous system
- Decrease in anxiety
- Muscle relaxation
How to use Nitrazepam
You should use the drug for a short period and also keep to the lowest dose because of the strength of the drug. Under no condition should you use more than the maximum dose. The duration of treatment can be from some days to two weeks and the maximum duration should not be more than 4 weeks. Even if you want to taper it off gradually, the last dose should not exceed four weeks from the time you start taking the drug.
Your doctor can adjust your dosage as you progress based on underlying medical conditions and some other individual considerations. You should never take the drug for a very long time.
- Adults: 5 mg before bed. The doctor may consider increasing the dosage to 10 mg
- Children below 12 years old: They should never use the drug at all.
- Elderly and patients with debilitating conditions: They can use 2.5 mg to 5 mg before bedtime. They should never take more than half of what healthy adults take.
The doctor may also reduce the drug in patients having chronic hepatic or renal disease and chronic pulmonary insufficiency.
The drug is to be taken orally. Make sure you drink a lot of water when taking the drug.
Patients taking Nitrazepam may end up with suicidal thoughts. So, the drug must not be used alone for treating conditions like depression or anxiety with depression.
Patients having hepatic insufficiency should avoid taking the drug. The dosage must be reduced in patients with hepatic or renal disease, and chronic pulmonary insufficiency.
You should equally not use the drug for the primary treatment of psychotic illness. The patient may lose his memory if woken up during the period the drug is having a maximum activity.
Benzodiazepines can inhibit psychological adjustment in cases of bereavement or loss. If the patient has insomnia, the doctor should first find out the underlying cause before prescribing Nitrazepam for symptomatic relief.
If the patient uses the drug for too long, tolerance may occur and the drug will become ineffective.
Patients may also become psychologically and physically dependent on Nitrazepam, especially when the patient uses a high dose of the drug over a long period. The risk of dependence further increases in patients who have a history of abusing drugs and alcohol and patients having a history of personality disorders.
The doctor should withdraw treatments gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Some withdrawal symptoms to note are:
- Confusional state
- Psychotic manifestations
You should never take Nitrazepam with alcohol. This can aggravate its sedative effect and prevent you from operating machines or driving while using Nitrazepam.
The central depressive effect of Nitrazepam may be aggravated if you use the drug with drugs like antipsychotics, tranquilizers, analgesics, hypnotics, antidepressants, sedatives, anxiolytics, anesthetics, narcotic analgesics, and anti-epileptic drugs.
The dopaminergic effect of levodopa may increase if you use it with Nitrazepam.
Furthermore, the anxiolytic and sedative effects of Nitrazepam may reduce with the consumption of theophylline and caffeine.
Nitrazepam and pregnancy
You should not take Nitrazepam if you are pregnant. The fetus may end up with congenital malformations if the mother takes this drug, especially in the first and second trimesters. If you are within child-bearing age, you should discuss with your doctor before taking the drug, especially if you suspect that you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant.
The neonate may experience conditions like moderate respiratory depression, hypotonia, and hypothermia if Nitrazepam is administered to the mother during the last trimester of pregnancy. The neonate may also develop dependency if the drug is given to the mother for a long time during her last trimester. Breastfeeding mothers should also not take Nitrazepam since the drug can get to the infant via breast milk.
Nitrazepam comes with side effects, but the side effects become even more pronounced if the patient uses an overdose or takes the drug for a long time. Some of the side effects are:
- Tingling sensation and numbness in the arms and legs
- Hypersensitivity to light, physical contact, and noise
- Epileptic seizure
You should not hesitate to contact your doctor immediately if you notice any of these side effects.