Valium (diazepam) is a benzodiazepine. It affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with anxiety. Valium is used to treat anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, or muscle spasms and it is sometimes used with other medications to treat seizures.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use Valium if you are allergic to diazepam or similar drugs (Klonopin, Xanax, and others), or if you have:
- myasthenia gravis (a muscle weakness disorder);
- severe liver disease;
- a severe breathing problem;
- sleep apnea (breathing stops during sleep); or
- alcoholism, or addiction to drugs similar to diazepam.
To make sure Valium is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:
- asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, or other breathing problems;
- kidney or liver disease;
- epilepsy or other seizure disorder;
- a drug or alcohol addiction; or
- mental illness, depression, or suicidal thoughts or behavior.
When treating seizures, do not start or stop taking Valium during pregnancy without your doctor’s advice. Diazepam may cause harm to an unborn baby, but having a seizure during pregnancy could harm both the mother and the baby. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking Valium for seizures.
When treating anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, or muscle spasms: If you take this medicine while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on habit-forming medicine may need medical treatment for several weeks. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
NOTE: Diazepam can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.
Valium is not approved for use by anyone younger than 6 months old. Do not give this medicine to a child without a doctor’s advice.
How should I take Valium?
Take Valium exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Diazepam may be habit-forming. Misuse of habit-forming medicine can cause addiction, overdose, or death. Selling or giving away Valium is against the law.
Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. Do not use a kitchen spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
Valium should be used for only a short time. Do not take this medicine for longer than 4 months without your doctor’s advice.
Do not stop using Valium suddenly, or you could have increased seizures or unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using this medicine.
Call your doctor at once if you feel that this medicine is not working as well as usual, or if you think you need to use more than usual.
While using this medicine, you may need frequent blood tests at your doctor’s office.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light. Keep track of your medicine. Diazepam is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using your medicine improperly or without a prescription.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What should I avoid while taking Valium?
Do not drink alcohol. Dangerous side effects could occur.
Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how this medicine will affect you. Dizziness or drowsiness can cause falls, accidents, or severe injuries.
Grapefruit may interact with diazepam and lead to unwanted side effects. Avoid the use of grapefruit products.
Valium side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Valium: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Diazepam can slow or stop your breathing, and death may occur. A person caring for you should seek emergency medical attention if you have slow breathing with long pauses, blue colored lips, or if you are hard to wake up.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
- weak or shallow breathing;
- severe drowsiness, feeling like you might pass out;
- depressed mood, thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself;
- confusion, hallucinations;
- anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping;
- hyperactivity, agitation, aggression, hostility;
- unusual risk-taking behavior; or
- new or worsening seizures.
The sedative effects of diazepam may last longer in older adults. Accidental falls are common in elderly patients who take benzodiazepines. Use caution to avoid falling or accidental injury while you are taking this medicine.
Common Valium side effects may include:
- tired feeling;
- muscle weakness; or
- loss of coordination.