In this drug factsheet:
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.
The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
- clumsiness or unsteadiness
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- slurred speech
Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- abnormal thinking (disorientation, delusions, or loss of sense of reality)
- behavioural changes (e.g., aggressiveness, angry outburst)
- blurred vision or other changes in vision
- changes in appetite
- changes in sexual desire or ability
- dry mouth
- false sense of well-being
- fast, irregular heartbeat
- increased watering of mouth
- memory problems
- muscle spasm
- muscle weakness
- nausea or vomiting
- problems with urination
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual excitement, nervousness, or irritability
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- yellow eyes or skin
Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:
- breathing difficulties
- chest pain
- convulsions (seizures)
- skin rash or itching
- swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Allergic reaction: Some people may develop a serious allergic reaction to this medication. Signs of an allergic reaction include a severe rash, hives, swollen face or throat, or difficulty breathing. If these occur, seek immediate medical attention.
Dependence and withdrawal: Physical dependence (a need to take regular doses to prevent physical symptoms) has been associated with benzodiazepines such as lorazepam. Severe withdrawal symptoms may be experienced if the dose is significantly reduced or suddenly discontinued. Withdrawal symptoms can include:
- abdominal cramps
- extreme anxiety
- memory impairment
- muscle pain
- sleep problems
Reducing the dose gradually under medical supervision can help prevent or decrease these withdrawal symptoms. If you have a history of addiction or substance use problems, discuss the risks and benefits of the medication with your doctor.
Depression: People who have preexisting depression may experience emerging or worsening symptoms of depression while taking this medication. If you experience this, contact your doctor as soon as possible. People with depression should be treated with appropriate antidepressant therapy.
Drowsiness/reduced alertness: People taking lorazepam should not drive a car or perform hazardous tasks until they determine that this medication does not impair their ability to perform these tasks safely. Avoid drinking alcohol, as it can increase the drowsiness effects of this medication.
Lung disease: If you have underlying lung disease (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea), discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Pregnancy: Taking lorazepam during the first trimester of pregnancy may result in an increased risk of certain birth defects. This medication should not be used during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking lorazepam, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Children and adolescents: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for those under 18 years of age.
Seniors: Seniors may be more likely to experience side effects of lorazepam, such as sedation and impaired coordination. Seniors should discuss with their doctor the risks and benefits of taking this medication.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
There may be an interaction between lorazepam and any of the following:
- anticonvulsants (e.g., carbamazepine, phenytoin, valproic acid)
- antidepressants (e.g., fluoxetine, paroxetine, venlafaxine)
- antihistamines (e.g., chlorpheniramine, diphenhydramine)
- antipsychotics (e.g., olanzapine, risperidone)
- barbiturates (e.g., phenobarbital, secobarbital)
- MAO inhibitors (e.g., phenelzine, tranylcypromine)
- narcotics (e.g., codeine, morphine)
- other benzodiazepines (e.g., clonazepam, temazepam)
- sedatives (e.g., zopiclone)
- tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline, nortriptyline)
If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.
Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications; you should let your prescriber know if you use them.