Precautions and Warnings With Diazepam
For some people, diazepam can cause depression or worsen preexisting depression. The medicine can also potentially cause severe drowsiness and difficulty breathing (which can be life-threatening). A few other precautions and warnings with diazepam include possible drug interactions, the safety of taking diazepam while nursing or pregnant, and people who should not take the medicine at all (such as those with an eye condition known as acute narrow-angle glaucoma).
Diazepam: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking diazepam (Valium®) if you have:
- A history of drug or alcohol abuse (see Valium and Alcohol)
- Liver disease, including liver failure or cirrhosis
- Kidney disease, including kidney failure (renal failure)
- Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
You should also make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Specific Precautions and Warnings With DiazepamSome warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking diazepam include:
- Diazepam is a controlled substance, which means that it has the potential to be abused. There are special rules and regulations for prescribing and dispensing diazepam. Diazepam is generally not recommended for people with a history of alcohol or drug abuse (see Valium Addiction).
- Diazepam should not replace more appropriate treatment for calming agitated psychotic patients.
- Diazepam can cause psychological and physical dependence and is often abused. The risk of abuse and dependence is greater for those taking higher diazepam doses for long periods of time (more than a few weeks). Because diazepam can cause dependence, you should not stop taking diazepam suddenly without first discussing it with your healthcare provider (see Valium Withdrawal).
- Diazepam can cause severe drowsiness and difficulty breathing, which may be life-threatening. This risk is increased when diazepam is combined with alcohol, narcotics, or other medications or substances that cause drowsiness and sedation (see Drug Interactions With Diazepam for more information). You should not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how diazepam affects you.
- Diazepam may cause depression or worsen preexisting depression. Prior to treatment with diazepam, make sure your healthcare provider knows if you are depressed or have a history of depression. People with depression should take diazepam only if they are also taking an antidepressant.
- Elderly people are more sensitive to the effects of diazepam and should be started with a low diazepam dosage. Diazepam may increase the risk of falling, which is especially dangerous in elderly people (who often have weak or brittle bones).
- Sometimes, people react to diazepam in a way that is the opposite of what is usually expected. That is, they may become agitated, aggressive, and restless and may have difficulty sleeping. Tell your healthcare provider if you experience these effects.
- Let your healthcare provider know if you have liver or kidney disease, as your body may not handle diazepam as well as it should.
- Diazepam is considered a pregnancy Category D medication. This means that it is probably not safe for use during pregnancy. Talk with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using the drug during pregnancy (see Valium and Pregnancy).
- Diazepam passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start breastfeeding, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Valium and Breastfeeding).