|Type of medicine||Benzodiazepine|
|Used for||Insomnia (difficulty sleeping)|
|Available as||Tablets and oral liquid|
Nitrazepam is used to treat insomnia (difficulty sleeping), but only for a short period of time.
It works by affecting the part of the brain that controls emotion and also by relaxing muscles. This reduces anxiety and promotes sleepiness.
Before taking nitrazepam
Before taking nitrazepam make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have any breathing problems.
- If you have sleep apnoea syndrome (short periods in your sleep where you stop breathing).
- If you have liver or kidney problems.
- If you have depression or any other mental health problem.
- If you have myasthenia gravis (a muscle weakening disease) or any other muscle weakness.
- If you have porphyria (a rare blood disorder).
- If you have ever had an addiction to alcohol or drugs.
- If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal or complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
How to take nitrazepam
- Before beginning treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet.
- Take nitrazepam exactly as directed by your doctor.
- Nitrazepam is usually taken just before bedtime.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Nitrazepam is to be taken for short periods of time only, from a few days up to 3 weeks. It should not be taken for longer periods of time, as this may lead to your feeling dependent on it. If you have already been taking nitrazepam for longer than 3 weeks, check with your doctor before stopping taking it. It must be stopped gradually as stopping suddenly can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, tremor and sleeplessness.
- Do not drink alcohol while you are taking nitrazepam. It will increase side-effects such as drowsiness.
- If you buy any medicines while you are taking nitrazepam, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take together.
- If you are having any treatment like an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking nitrazepam.
Can nitrazepam cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, all medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine||What can I do if I experience this|
|Drowsiness, dizziness, feeling light-headed or less alert than normal||Make sure your reactions are normal before driving, operating machinery or doing any other jobs which could be dangerous if you were not fully alert. Do not drink alcohol|
|Unsteadiness or muscle weakness, confusion, forgetfulness||Let your doctor know if these are troublesome|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headache continues, let your doctor know|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store nitrazepam
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 59th Edition (March 2010) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Nitrazepam Tablets 5 mg, Actavis UK Ltd, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated October 2008.
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen|
|Last Checked: 21/10/2010||Document ID: 1430 Version: 23||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.