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All about: Ambien

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Generic Name: Zolpidem Tablets (ZOLE-pih-dem)
Brand Name: Ambien

Ambien is used for:

Short-term treatment of insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep).

Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic, or sleep medicine. It works by helping to increase certain natural chemicals in the brain that cause sleep.

Do NOT use Ambien if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Ambien
  • you are taking sodium oxybate (also known as GHB)

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Before using Ambien :

Some medical conditions may interact with Ambien . Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you are depressed, have alcohol or substance abuse problems, have liver disease, or have breathing problems, especially when sleeping

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Ambien . Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • HIV protease inhibitors (eg, ritonavir) or sodium oxybate (GHB) because they may increase the risk of Ambien 's side effects

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Ambien may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Ambien :

Use Ambien as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • An extra patient leaflet is available with Ambien . Talk to your pharmacist if you have questions about this information.
  • Take Ambien by mouth with or without food.
  • Ambien works very quickly; use Ambien right before going to sleep.
  • Use Ambien only when you are able to get a full night's sleep (7 to 8 hours).
  • Sleep medicines are usually used only for short periods of time, such as 1 to 2 days, and generally not longer than 1 or 2 weeks. If your sleep problems continue, talk with your doctor. Long-term use of Ambien (more than 1 month) is not advised.
  • If you miss a dose of Ambien , skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once and do not take more than your total daily dose in any 24-hour period.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Ambien .

Important safety information:

  • Ambien may cause drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, or lightheadedness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use Ambien with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use medicines that may cause drowsiness (eg, sleep aids, muscle relaxers) while you are using Ambien ; it may add to their effects. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about which medicines may cause drowsiness.
  • When you first start taking Ambien , it may have a "carryover" effect on you the next day. Use extreme care while doing anything that requires complete alertness (eg, driving a car).
  • Sleep medicines may cause a special type of memory loss or "amnesia." To prevent memory problems, be sure to use Ambien only when you are able to get a full night's sleep (7 to 8 hours) before you need to be active again. Be sure to talk to your health care provider if you think you are having memory problems.
  • Use Ambien with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Ambien should not be used in CHILDREN younger than 18 years old; safety and effectiveness in these children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using Ambien while you are pregnant. Ambien may cause prolonged sleep in the fetus when used during the last weeks of pregnancy. Ambien is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking Ambien .

When sleep medicines are used every night for more than a few weeks, they may lose their effectiveness to help you sleep. This is known as TOLERANCE. Sleep medicines should usually be used only for short periods of time, such as a few days and generally no longer than 1 or 2 weeks. If your sleep problems continue, contact your doctor.

When used for longer than a few weeks or at high doses, some people develop a need to continue taking Ambien . This is known as DEPENDENCE or addiction. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have been dependent on alcohol, prescription medicines, or street drugs in the past.

If you stop taking Ambien suddenly, you may have WITHDRAWAL symptoms. This may include unpleasant feelings. In more severe cases, you may have stomach and muscle cramps, vomiting, sweating, and shakiness. Seizures may rarely occur. If you take Ambien for more than 1 to 2 weeks, do not stop taking it without talking to your doctor.

Possible side effects of Ambien :

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Daytime drowsiness or "heavily sedated" feeling; diarrhea; dizziness; drowsiness; feeling uncoordinated; light-headedness; memory loss.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); aggressive behavior; agitation; confusion; hallucinations; loss of personal identity; pounding in the chest; strange behavior; suicidal thoughts; worsening of depression.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions or need medical advice about side effects, contact your doctor or health care provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088) or at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center (http://www.aapcc.org/findyour.htm), or emergency room immediately. Symptoms of an overdose may include light coma; sleepiness.

Proper storage of Ambien :

Store Ambien at room temperature, between 68 and 77 degrees F (20 and 25 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep Ambien out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Ambien , please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Ambien is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

This information is summary only. It does not contain all information about Ambien . If you have questions about the medicine you are taking or would like more information, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider.

Issue Date: September 5, 2007
Database Edition 07.3.1.003
Copyright © 2007 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

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