From Pharmacy Drug Guide
Physicians prescribe Ambien® (zolpidem) for the short-term treatment of insomnia: trouble falling or staying asleep. It comes in an extended-release formula called Ambien CR. Ambien® is part of a class of medications called sedative-hypnotics. It functions by slowing brain activity, which brings relaxation and allows sleep. Ambien® starts to work very quickly, so the manufacturer recommends going to bed immediately after taking it. Not going to bed soon enough after taking Ambien®, or getting up too soon, can cause memory problems such as amnesia and other potentially serious side effects.
Common side effects of Ambien® include loss of coordination, lightheadedness, abdominal pain, gas, altered appetite, and dryness of the mouth or throat. In addition, some Ambien® users may walk, talk, eat, have sex, or perform other activities while in an unconscious state.
A study published in the British Medical Journal on February 27, 2012 showed that there may be a link between sleeping pills like Ambien® and earlier death and cancer. However, the research did not determine whether the pills actually contribute to death and disease or if other factors are involved.
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|Brand name for||Zolpidem|
|Uses||Short-term insomnia treatment|
|Common side effects||Drowsiness, fatigue, headache, confusion, staggering, shaking, strange dreams, dry mouth or throat, ringing, pain, or itching in the ears, red eyes, sore muscles, pain, heavy menstruation.|
|Who should not take Ambien||Those under 18 years of age|
|Disclaimer||The information provided by PharmacyDrugGuide is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Do not take any action based on the information on this page without consulting a physician.|
Common Ambien Side Effects
The most common adverse reactions to prescription Ambien® include amnesia, tiredness, dizziness, grogginess, stumbling, bowel issues, gas, heartburn, stomach pain, changes in desire for food, uncontrollable shaking of body parts, burning or tingling in the limbs or appendages, unusual dreams, dry mouth or throat, ear ringing or pain, eye redness, aches, joint, back, or neck pain, and heavier periods.
Ambien's more serious side effects include heart pounding, chest pain, vomiting and blurry vision.
Ambien and Death
A study of roughly 35,000 people's medical records in February, 2012 revealed that those prescribed sleeping pills were up to nearly four times more likely to die sooner than those who were not prescribed sleeping pills. Drugs in the study included Ambien®, Lunesta®, Sonata®, and others. Death risk increased with heavier use, but appeared to be elevated even among patients who took just 18 sleeping pills a year.
Experts note that the study was not comprehensive, and that there is a strong possibility that the early deaths were not caused by sleeping pills, but rather by illnesses that can either cause or result from poor sleep habits. Insomnia can contribute to diabetes, heart disease and obesity, all of which can be fatal. In addition, existing medical conditions that lead to death can keep patients up at night, necessitating sleeping pill prescriptions. This study did show that those with conditions like cancer were more likely to be on sleeping pills.
Drug Side Effects
Ambien Allergic Reactions
Allergies to Ambien® are not common. However, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to the active ingredient, zolpidem, or to any of the non-active ingredients included in the Ambien® or Ambien CR formulas. In extreme but rare cases, allergies to Ambien® can result in anaphylactic shock, a potentially fatal condition.
Ambien Precautions and Warnings
- Ambien® is intended for short-term use. Ambien's effects tends to lessen when used for two weeks or longer.
- Ambien® can be habit-forming and physically addictive.
- Some patients who take Ambien® have reported walking, talking, having sex or driving in their sleep. These patients typically had no recollection of their own actions once they awoke.
- In some cases, Ambien® patients may develop mental illnesses or exhibit unusual behavior. Danger signs include aggressiveness, hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, anxiety and trouble concentrating.
- Patients who have been using Ambien® for an extended period of time are advised to consult a physician before discontinuing use. Quitting abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms like shakiness, insomnia, drowsiness, cramping, upset stomach and even seizures.
- Some patients who take Ambien® will feel sleepy during the day. This may be remedied by adjusting the dosage under the guidance of a physician. This side effects is most common among older patients, and can increase the risk of falling down and causing injury.
- Patients who have had or currently have certain medical conditions are advised to caution their doctor before taking Ambien®. These conditions include disease of the liver or kidneys, depression or other mental illnesses, suicidal tendencies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), sleep apnea or substance abuse.
- Pregnant women are advised not to take Ambien® unless absolutely necessary. It is possible for women who take Ambien® to give birth to children with breathing problems, particularly when the mother is using similar medications at the same time.