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Ambien

What is Ambien?
Ambien is a short-term (7- to 10-day) prescription sleep aid for people who have difficulty falling asleep, have trouble remaining asleep, or awaken too early in the morning. Ambien helps restore your quality of sleep. It was introduced in Europe in 1988, and in the United States five years later. To date, more than 4 billion doses of Ambien have been prescribed worldwide.

Does Ambien work?
Ambien helps people suffering from insomnia fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes. Ambien should only be taken when you are ready to go to sleep. Further, Ambien helps you stay asleep and not wake up too early. Avoid taking Ambien unless you are prepared to devote a full 7 to 8 hours to sleeping.

What are the most common side effects?
Most commonly, with short-term Ambien treatment in controlled clinical studies, the side effects have been daytime drowsiness in 2%, dizziness 1%, and diarrhea 1%. Avoid driving an automobile or operating heavy machinery upon awakening after taking any sleep medication until you know how it will affect your physical or mental performance. Do not drink alcohol while taking Ambien.

Will I feel drowsy the next day?
Generally, you won't have to sacrifice next-day performance for a good night's sleep with Ambien. A study of about 500 volunteers with insomnia who were given alertness tests the morning after taking Ambien found that they performed just as well as people who were given a placebo. In short-term clinical trials, only 2% of people taking Ambien reported feeling sleepy during the daytime. Taking Ambien as directed will minimize the risk of next-day drowsiness. Regarding elderly patients, one study reported a small but statistically significant decrease in performance in a test of dexterity when compared with a placebo.

Can I take Ambien if I'm also taking other medications?
Some medications, even those available without prescription, can interfere with or amplify the effect of Ambien. Before taking any other drug, consult with your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions with Ambien. Avoid alcohol while taking Ambien.

Can I take Ambien if I'm pregnant?
Studies to assess the effects of Ambien on human reproduction and development have not been conducted and therefore use of Ambien during pregnancy is not recommended. It should be considered ONLY if your physician determines it is needed. Sleep medicines can cause sedation of the unborn baby when used during the final weeks of pregnancy. Be sure to inform your doctor if you are pregnant, if you are planning a pregnancy or if you become pregnant while taking sleep medicines.

I'm an older adult who has insomnia. Will Ambien work for me?
Yes, Ambien is an effective short-term treatment for insomnia in older adults and the elderly. However, your sensitivity to the actions of drugs such as Ambien may be greater, so a lower dose should be considered to decrease the possibility of negative side effects.

How long can I safely take Ambien?
Ambien, like most other sleep medicines, is most often initially prescribed for 7-10 days as needed. Your doctor will advise you if it is suitable to take it for a longer period of time.

Is there anything special that my doctor should know before Ambien is prescribed for me?
Some conditions may affect how you take Ambien. Be sure to tell your doctor if:

  • You drink alcohol
  • You have a history of alcohol or drug dependency
  • You are pregnant or breast-feeding
  • You have any breathing difficulties, such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema You have a history of heavy snoring
  • You are suffering from depression
  • You have kidney or liver disease

 

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