Zolpidem is sold under the brand name Ambien, which is a central nervous system depressant. It works on the chemicals in the brain and promotes relaxation thereby helping the patient to fall asleep. It is a controlled substance and so is commonly used in the treatment of insomnia over short periods of time, such as a day or two, or a week or two. Zolpidem is not meant for prolonged use, due to its nature of causing physical or psychological dependence in patients. As with any medication, Zolpidem can induce some adverse reactions in the body.
Zolpidem may be a good drug of choice for patients experiencing sleepless nights. However, patients who are under this drug should be aware of its side effects to keep themselves safe. The various side effects of Zolpidem includes
Patients taking Zolpidem may experience daytime dizziness and drowsiness. So, when a patient cannot devote at least seven to eight hours of sleep every day, then it is not the right choice of medication for them. It is one of the common side effect experienced with patients taking Zolpidem. This effect may ease out over time in some patients, while in others it indicates the need for a lower dose.
Patients should take caution while driving, completing tasks that are dangerous and working under machinery until they know what effect the medication will create in them. These side effects are enhanced with drinking alcohol.
Zolpidem use can cause unusual and impaired thinking or behavior such as decreased inhibitions, fuzzy and unclear thinking, and feeling drunk as if alcohol was consumed. Extreme cases of unusual behaviors have also been reported such as eating or driving while asleep, and suicidal thinking in individuals already suffering from depression.
Some patients taking Zolpidem may experience stomach discomfort which includes gas, constipation, diarrhoea, stomach tenderness or pain, and heartburn. However, these symptoms are temporary and may go off when the body adjusts to the medication. To avoid any kind of stomach discomfort after Zolpidem use, it is advisable to take this drug with a small snack. In addition, to lessen stomach discomfort associated with this medication, one may avoid taking spicy foods and try eating smaller meals frequently. It should be noted that the effects of Zolpidem may be faster if not taken with a meal or immediately after a meal.
Headache is one the common side effect after Zolpidem use, which occurs the day following taking this medication. Treating headaches with over-the-counter analgesics should be done only after consulting with the heath care provider. In case of severe headache that is accompanied with weakness on one side of the body, fainting, visual discharge, and severe dizziness, it should be brought to the notice of the heath care provider immediately.
A relatively common Zolpidem side effect is the temporary memory loss of events that occurs immediately after taking a dose. This effect stops as soon as Zolpidem in the body wears off, even though the memory that is lost is a permanent effect. Additional memory loss, drowsiness and dizziness will also be experienced by patients who are awoken during his/her sleep cycle after taking Zolpidem. In such cases, where a patient is unable to sleep for seven to eight hours, the drug should be better avoided.
Hallucinations, which is another Zolpidem side effect not only alters the perception of the individual but also affects memory. Hallucinations can be described as any sound, sensation, smell, or visual pattern that lacks a definitive cause. Patients experiencing hallucinations after Zolpidem use may simply believe that their dreams are real in nature. The manifestation of these hallucinations may lead to a patient developing alternative memories to explain these associations.
Long term Zolpidem use can cause some level of drug dependency. However, studies have shown that, when Zolpidem is taken as described, it may treat insomnia effectively without creating issues such as drug tolerance or dependence issues. People who already have a problem with substance abuse or addiction are at a higher risk for Zolpidem dependency.
One consideration that may increase Zolpidem addiction and misuse is its withdrawal symptoms that can occur as a result of stopping the medication suddenly. These withdrawal effects may be in the form of sweating, vomiting, tremors, depression, convulsions, and insomnia.