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Lorazepam

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Updated June 26, 2008

What is Lorazepam? :

Lorazepam is a medication is commonly used to prevent seizures, reduce anxiety, and induce muscle relaxation. It can also be prescribed to aid in alcohol withdrawal, insomnia, and other conditions.

In cancer patients, lorazepam is prescribed to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting that often follows chemotherapy.

Lorazepam is the generic form of the drug Ativan.

How is Lorazepam Given?:

Lorazepam is commonly given in a tablet form that can be swallowed or dissolve under the tongue. It can also be administered intravenously (IV) or by injection, which is especially helpful if you have trouble keeping pills down because of vomiting. It is available by prescription only.

For cancer patients, lorazepam is normally prescribed "as needed," meaning you won't have to take the medicine on a regular schedule.

For chronic nausea and vomiting, other medications may be prescribed, or taken in conjunction with lorazepam.

How Can Lorazepam Help Me During Chemotherapy?:

One of the most common side effects of chemotherapy treatment is nausea and vomiting. The treatment itself or anxiousness about treatment can cause mild to severe bouts of nausea and vomiting. Lorazepam can help relieve these side effects.

What are the Side Effects of Lorazepam?:

You may experience fatigue, dizziness and weakness while taking lorazepam. Keep an eye out for feelings of depression, sleep problems, and feelings of sedation. Let your doctor know about the side effects you are experiencing. If bothersome, other anti-nausea medications can be prescribed.

Consult your doctor before stopping or changing the dosage. See complete list of lorazepam side effects.

What if Lorazepam Doesn't Work for Me?:

If lorazepam doesn't help with your nausea and vomiting, your doctor may change the dosage or prescribe another anti-nausea medications. Sometimes it takes trying a few different kinds of medicine to find the one that works best for you.

Warnings:

  • Avoid alcohol when taking lorazepam because it can increase the effects of alcohol.
  • Lorazepam can become addictive. Follow your doctor's exact instructions when taking and stopping this medicine.
  • Your doctor must be made aware of any other medications you are taking. This includes prescription, herbal supplements, and over-the-counter medications. Lorazepam combined with other drugs may cause an adverse affect.
  • Use caution when driving and operating heavy machinery. Your doctor will let you know if you should not drive or operate heavy machinery based on your tolerance and dosage.

Sources:

"ACS Drug Guide: lorazepam." American Cancer Society. Accessed 27 Mar 2007.

"Treatment of Acute/Delayed Emesis." 08 March 2007. National Cancer Institute. Accessed 27 Mar 2007.

"Ativan." FDA. Accessed 27 Mar 2007.

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