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What is Diazepam?

Diazepam is a generic drug that helps treat alcohol withdrawal, anxiety, muscle spasms, and specific types of seizures (convulsions). Diazepam oral tablet is also available as an intravenous injection, oral solution, a nasal spray (liquid), and a rectal gel. It is also available with the brand name Valium, but the generic one comes in at a comparatively lesser price. You can take Diazepam alone or in combination with other drugs depending upon your condition.

Diazepam is a benzodiazepine that increases GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) activity in your brain. If you do not have this chemical in your nervous system, your body may turn into an excited state resulting in anxiety, muscle spasms, or seizures.

Important Information

Diazepam may slow down your breathing, especially if you recently take opioid medicine, alcohol, or other medications that can slow or stop your breathing. Diazepam misuse can cause overdose, addiction, or even death.

When treating muscle spasms, anxiety, or alcohol withdrawal, you might give birth to a drug-dependent baby if you use Diazepam for treatment during pregnancy. It can cause withdrawal symptoms in the newborn baby. A baby born dependent on drugs might need medical observation and treatment for several weeks.

You might get suicidal thoughts while taking Diazepam. So, stay alert to your mood or behavior changes and report any new or worsening changes to your medical healthcare provider.

What to know before taking Diazepam?

You should check about your allergies before taking Diazepam. Do not take it if you are allergic to Diazepam or if you have any of the following medical issues:

  • Severe liver disease;
  • Myasthenia gravis or any other muscle weakness disorder;
  • Interrupted breathing during sleep;
  • Any severe breathing problem;
  • Uncontrollable or untreated open-angle glaucoma; or
  • Narrow-angle glaucoma

You should not give Diazepam to a child younger than six months. With prior consultation with a medical healthcare provider, do not give Diazepam to a child of any age group.

Do not start taking or suddenly stop taking Diazepam to treat seizures (or convulsions) during pregnancy with proper medical consultation. During pregnancy, the occurrence of stroke could harm both mother and the unborn baby. Do not take Diazepam during pregnancy and lactation as there are chances of passing the drug through breast milk.

How to take Diazepam?

Take Diazepam as per the dosage schedule your doctor assigned. Occasionally, your medical healthcare provider may change your dosage. If you feel an increased urge to take this medication, tell your medical healthcare provider right away.

Diazepam is for short-term use only. So, do not take this medication for longer than four months without prior consultation with your medical healthcare provider. Never take Diazepam (Valium) in more significant amounts or for longer than recommended.

You should never suddenly stop taking this medication; otherwise, you might face unpleasant withdrawal symptoms or seizures. You may need to go for frequent medical tests while taking Diazepam.

Diazepam dosage

Diazepam is a generic oral tablet available in three strengths: 2 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg. Here is a list of some dosage schedules for different conditions in people of varying age groups:

Diazepam dosage for anxiety

Adult dosage (ages 18 to 64 years):

  • The initial dose should be 2 mg to 10 mg orally two to four times a day.
  • Pediatric dosage (ages six months to 17 years):
  • The initial dose should be 1 mg to 2.5 mg orally three to four times a day.
  • Doctors start pediatric patients with the lowest effective dose and increase it according to their initial response to the treatment.
  • Geriatric dosage (ages 65 years and older):
  • The typical initial dose is 2 mg to 2.5 mg orally once or twice a day.
  • Your doctor will gradually increase the amount depending upon how you are responding to this medication.
  • Older adults process this drug slowly, so your doctor will start your treatment with the lowest effective doses and increase it gradually.

Dosage for acute alcohol withdrawal

Adult dosage (ages 18 to 64 years):

  • The standard dose is 10 mg orally three or four times in the first 24 hours. Your doctor may reduce the amount to 5 mg three or four times per day, depending upon withdrawal symptoms.
  • Child dosage (upto 17 years):
  • The initial dose should be 1 mg to 2.5 mg orally three to four times a day.
  • Doctors start pediatric patients with the lowest effective dose and increase it according to their initial response to the treatment.
  • Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older):
  • The typical initial dose is 2 mg to 2.5 mg orally once or twice a day.
  • Your doctor will gradually increase the quantity depending upon how you are responding to this medication.
  • Older adults process this drug slowly, so your doctor will start your treatment with the lowest effective doses and increase it gradually.

Dosage for add-on treatment of muscle spasms and seizures in people with epilepsy

Adult dosage (ages 18 to 64 years):

  • The initial dose should be 2 mg to 10 mg orally two to four times a day.
  • Your doctor will start your treatment with the lowest effective dose and gradually increase it as per your medical needs.
  • Pediatric dosage (ages six months to 17 years):
  • The initial dose should be 1 mg to 2.5 mg orally three to four times a day.
  • Doctors start pediatric patients with the lowest effective dose and increase it according to their initial response to the treatment.
  • Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older):
  • The typical initial dose is 2 mg to 2.5 mg orally once or twice a day.
  • Your doctor will gradually increase the amount depending upon how you are responding to this medication.
  • Older adults process this drug slowly, so your doctor will start your treatment with the lowest effective doses and increase it gradually.

Overdose

If you have an overdose of Diazepam resulting in lightheadedness or trouble breathing, call 911 or your provincial Poison control helpline. The overdose can be fatal if you take Diazepam with an opioid drug, alcohol, or other medications that can add to your drowsiness or slow down your breathing. Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, slow or shallow breathing, fainting, loss of coordination, slow reflexes, limp or weak muscles, or coma.

What to avoid while using Diazepam?

Avoid any product containing alcohol or grapefruit. It may cause unwanted side effects or even death. Diazepam may cause extreme drowsiness or dizziness. So, avoid driving or performing any activity that requires alertness as it may cause accidental falls or severe injuries.

Diazepam side effects

The more common side effects of Diazepam that may occur and get away after some days using this medication include:

  • Muscle weakness, tiredness, or fatigue;
  • Drowsiness, headache, dizziness;
  • Tremor, inability to control muscle reflexes;
  • Nausea, constipation, dry mouth, or excessive saliva formation

Severe side effects of Diazepam that might need you to call 911 or consult your medical healthcare provider include:

  • Worsening of seizures with an increase in its frequency and severity;
  • Mental changes such as confusion, depression, vertigo, memory loss, vision or speech problems, suicidal thoughts;
  • Unusual reactions like anxiety, extreme excitement, hallucinations, trouble sleeping (insomnia), muscle spasms, agitation;
  • Liver problems including jaundice;
  • Inability to urinate or hold urine;
  • Increase or sudden reduction in sex drive; or
  • Withdrawal symptoms such as muscle or abdominal cramps, tremors, convulsions, sweating

What drugs can interact with Diazepam?

Drug interactions may occur while taking Diazepam. So, it will be beneficial if you tell your medical healthcare provider about all the other medications you take, including over-the-counter, prescription or non-prescription, herbal products, vitamins, or supplements.

Some products that may interact with Diazepam include fluvoxamine, clozapine, sodium oxybate, and orlistat. The severe side effects risk is higher if you take products that may cause drowsiness or slow breathing. So, avoid taking the following drugs:

  • Opioids such as codeine, hydrocodone;
  • Sleep or anxiety medications such as alprazolam and lorazepam;
  • Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis);
  • Muscle relaxants (carisoprodol, cyclobenzaprine); or
  • Antihistamines
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