Ambien is a drug that doctors often prescribe to treat insomnia. Despite the high efficacy of the preparation, it also bears some risks. What to be aware of before taking Ambien and how to make its use safe – further in the post.

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Ambien. How to Make the Treatment Safe?

The problem of insomnia is very common. Stress and anxiety coming to our lives regularly often become the reason for the inability to fall asleep or frequent night wakeups. If such things happen, doctors usually recommend starting with normalizing your sleep hygiene (going to bed at the same time, etc.) and taking on cognitive behavioral therapy. But if none of these works, you will probably start a medicinal treatment. Ambien is one of the best drugs to use for this purpose. It works fast and is usually well-tolerated. Still, this medication has not only positive sides.

To make the most of your treatment and avoid unwanted reactions and long-term risks, you should be aware of the contraindications to the drug and dangerous interactions. Let’s dive into the safety matters of Ambien use to find out how to make the treatment maximum safe.

Reasons to Take Ambien. How This Medication Works

Ambien is an FDA-approved drug for the treatment of insomnia. As it shouldn’t be used longer than two weeks, it is most suitable for those dealing with acute manifestations of the disease. The primary reason why Ambien shouldn’t be used longer than mentioned is its influence on the GABA-A receptors in the human brain. The preparation has a sedative, tranquilizing effect, which works well for those who have trouble falling asleep.

The long-term use of this medication will gradually cause your body to get used to it, forming tolerance and dependence. The active ingredient of Ambien, called zolpidem, is a controlled substance, so it is sold by prescription only. You should visit your GP to get a prescription for Ambien. Only a doctor can weigh all the benefits and drawbacks of the treatment to make a proper decision.

Weighing Pros and Cons. When Do the Risks Outweigh?

In some people, the risks of developing severe adverse reactions are much higher than in others. The reason is their health condition. Some diseases, mental and physical, may get worse when on Ambien. To avoid exacerbations, doctors recommend avoiding treatment with Ambien for people suffering from:

- hypersensitivity to zolpidem or other ingredients of the Ambien pills;

- depression, suicidal thoughts;

- severe breathing disorders, like COPD or sleep apnea;

- myasthenia gravis;

- severe liver disease;

- drug or alcohol addiction.

Ambien may cause birth defects in babies whose mothers use Ambien during pregnancy. The drug is contraindicated in pregnant and breastfeeding women. The safety of using Ambien in children has not been established. Therefore, this medication shouldn’t be used in kids.

Dangerous Interactions. What to Expect?

Ambien pills affect our central nervous system. Many other medications do the same and can therefore interact with Ambien. Some most severe interactions may be life-threatening and should be carefully watched out for. One of the most dangerous interactions happens between Ambien and Tramadol. The latter is an opioid analgesic, which depresses the nervous system. Their concomitant use will cause a synergistic effect, which can lead to respiratory depression, coma, and death. All the other opioids will interact with Ambien the same way, so make sure you don’t mix them together.

Another dangerous interaction is between Ambien and alcohol. They enhance each other’s intoxicating effects, which may result in dizziness, confusion, trouble concentrating, depressed breathing, and sleep apnea. According to the American Addiction Centers, people who mix Ambien with alcohol are twice more likely to get into intensive care than those who avoid such interaction.

What If You Overdose?

The maximum daily dosage of Ambien recommended by the FDA is 10 mg. If you stick to your doctor’s advice and don’t exceed the recommended dose, you are not likely to get any significant health issues. However, the situation will change if you overdose on Ambien. Whether unintentional or not, Ambien overdose may cause the following symptoms:

- pinpoint pupils;

- slurred speech;

- inability to wake up (may range from somnolence to coma, depending on the size of an overdose);

- cardiovascular symptoms, like a slow heartbeat or low blood pressure;

- respiratory depression.

All these may end up in a lethal case, so as soon as you understand that you’ve overdosed on Ambien, call an emergency. Gastric lavage, symptomatic and supportive measures are typically used to cope with an overdose. Be careful and follow your doctor’s recommendations for safe intake of Ambien.

Summing up

Ambien is a potent medication with a rapid onset of effects that works well for people suffering from certain sleep disorders. However, it should be used only by prescription, as along with the benefits you may get from the treatment, there also come certain risks. Keep to your doctor’s recommendations and get rid of your sleep disorder safely.