Alprazolam is a short-acting benzodiazepine, which is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Learn about its side effects, contraindications, and dosage.
One of the most common medication to relieve anxiety and induce sleep is Alprazolam, which is usually found in the market with the name of Xanax. This article will explain this medication in detail and will help you to understand it in a better way.
Chemically, it is a short-acting benzodiazepine that is available in oral forms or tablets. Its action can be experienced within an hour of consuming it, though its duration of action is six hours. It acts or affects the unbalanced chemicals present in the brain due to anxiety and produces a peace or calming effect. Some of the other commercial or trade names in which this medication is available are Xanax, Xanor, Niravam, etc. Its half-life is known to be 4 to 6 hours in immediate-release formulations and 11 to 16 hours in extended-release formulations. It is metabolized in the liver and excreted through the kidney.
As mentioned earlier, it is used to manage or treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and also anxiety caused due to depression.
Some of the other uses include management of nausea that has been caused due to chemotherapy, along with other medications. Generalized anxiety disorder patients show improvement after taking it usually within a week.
Since it has a calming effect and induces sleep, it is also prescribed as a sleeping tablet. But, it is advisable to take it based on the doctor’s prescription and after consulting your doctor.
Alprazolam is available as both immediate-release and extended-release oral formulations or tablets. It is available in various trade names and the dosage available are 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg. It is advisable to consult your physician before taking it, as he or she will guide you the appropriate dosage required for you based on your condition and disease.
It is advisable not to drive after taking it, as it can cause drowsiness within a few hours of taking it. Some of the common side-effects encountered by taking Alprazolam are as follows:
· Drowsy feeling or dizziness.
· Memory problems.
· Dry mouth.
· Stuffy nose.
· Increased sweating.
· Change in appetite.
· Decreased interest in sex.
· Sleep issues.
· Stomach upset.
· Nausea or vomiting.
· Vision getting blurred.
· Concentration issues.
· Weakness of muscles.
Usually, these effects are mild and go away on their own within a few days or weeks. If these effects are severe or do not go away on their own, consult your physician as soon as possible for further management.
Some of the serious side-effects that need medical attention are as follows:
Mental issues like depressed mood, suicidal thoughts, confusion, and hallucinations.
Issues in movements like tremor, seizures or uncontrolled muscle movements.
Heart problems like pain in the chest, abnormal heartbeat.
Liver issues like jaundice.
Decrease in urine output.
Long term use can lead to dependence (all benzodiazepines have that tendency).
In the elderly population, benzodiazepines have shown to cause cognitive decline. So should be used with caution in geriatric patients.
Alprazolam, like any other medication, can interact with other medicines that you are taking. Some of the drugs that you should not be taking with Alprazolam as:
1. They may increase the side-effects are as follows:
· Antifungals like Itraconazole or ketoconazole. These may increase the drowsiness if taken with Alprazolam.
· Barbiturates like Amobarbital and Butabarbital.
· Hypnotics or sedative drugs like Eszopiclone, Zaleplon.
· Anxiety medications or anxiolytics like Lorazepam, Clonazepam.
· Narcotics (analgesics or painkillers) like Morphine, Oxycodone.
· Antihistamines that are sedatives like Brompheniramine, Chlorpheniramine, etc.
· Anesthetics like Ketamine, Propofol, Etomidate.
· Antacids like Cimetidine.
· Antidepressants like Fluvoxamine, Fluoxetine, Nefazodone.
· Oral contraceptives may increase drowsiness or other side-effects.
2. These may decrease the efficacy of Alprazolam:
· Anticonvulsants like Carbamazepine, Phenytoin, etc.
It is always better to consult your physician before taking this tablet, and some precautions and warnings are a must for you to know before considering to consume it. They are as follows:
Allergy: Do not take it if you are allergic to it. If you are unknown and if you happen to notice, rashes, itching with difficulty in breathing, swelling of throat or tongue, consult your physician immediately.
Alcohol: Consumption of alcohol will increase drowsiness that is already associated with the intake of Alprazolam. Hence, avoid consuming alcohol while taking this tablet.
Depression: Again, Alprazolam may cause depression. If you have worsening of symptoms or get suicidal thoughts, consult your physician immediately.
· Acute narrow-angle glaucoma.
· History of alcoholism, drug abuse or personality disorder: These patients have the risk of addiction or dependence.
· Liver disease: Difficulty in breaking down or metabolizing this drug and hence, increase amount of this drug in the body can cause an increase in side effects.
· Lung disease.
· Pregnant woman: It affects the fetus and hence, it is advisable to consult your gynecologist and general physician before taking it.
· Breastfeeding: This drug is known to pass through breast-milk and hence, affect the fetus.
As Alprazolam is a good drug to manage anxiety, but still it comes with its own side-effects, it is advisable to understand the details of the drug and consult your physician before taking it. Online medical platforms make it easy to get consulted by a doctor from the ease of your home.
Yes, Alprazolam is the chemical or generic name whereas it is available in the market as Xanax, being one of its trade names.
Since both are the same, it depends on the dosage of the drug. It is available in various doses and you must consult your physician before taking it.
Yes, Alprazolam can make you feel drowsy and dizzy. Hence, it is advisable to take it at night and also to avoid driving after taking it.
Many drugs interact with Alprazolam and some may increase the side effects like oral contraceptives, antifungals, hypnotics, anti-anxiety medications, barbiturates, anti-depressants, etc., wheres some may decrease its efficacy like anticonvulsants.
Its half-life is 4 to 6 hours for immediate-release and 11-13 hours for sustained-release. Hence, approximately it is completely excreted out of the body after four days.
Yes, it has a calming effect on the brain and hence, can be used in stress.
It decreases the abnormally excited or presence of chemicals in the brain and produces a calming effect.
Yes, it may cause a change in appetite and hence, it may either make you gain weight or lose weight.
It acts on the brain by decreasing the altered or abnormal chemicals in the brain and decreases activation of the central nervous system, thereby producing a calming effect.
Last reviewed at:
01 Jul 2019 - 4 min read
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