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Living with MS

Treatments > Medications Used In MS


Brand Name Chemical Name

Valium
(U.S. and Canada)

Diazepam
(dye-az-e-pam)

Primary Usage in MS

Generic Available
Spasticity Yes (U.S.)

Description
Diazepam is a benzodiazepine that belongs to the group of medicines called central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which slow down the nervous system. Although diazepam is used for a variety of medical conditions, it is used in multiple sclerosis primarily for the relief of muscle spasms and spasticity.

Proper Usage
Keep this medication out of the reach of children. An overdose of this medication may be especially dangerous for children.

Precautions
Your physician should check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medication does not cause unwanted effects.

Take diazepam only as directed by your physician; do not increase the dose without a prescription to do so.

Diazepam adds to the effects of alcohol and other CNS depressants (e.g., antihistamines, sedatives, tranquilizers, prescription pain medications, seizure medications, muscle relaxants, sleeping medications). Consult your physician before taking any of these CNS depressants while you are taking diazepam. Taking an overdose of this medication or taking it with alcohol or other CNS depressants may lead to unconsciousness and possibly death.

Stopping this medication suddenly may cause withdrawal side effects. Reduce the amount gradually before stopping completely.

Diazepam may cause some people to become drowsy, dizzy, lightheaded, clumsy, or unsteady. Even if taken at bedtime, it may cause some people to feel drowsy or less alert on awakening.

The use of diazepam during the first three months of pregnancy has been reported to increase the chance of birth defects.

Overuse of diazepam during pregnancy may cause the baby to become dependent on the medicine, leading to withdrawal side effects after birth. The use of diazepam, especially during the last weeks of pregnancy, may cause breathing problems, muscle weakness, difficulty in feeding, and body temperature problems in the newborn infant. When diazepam is given in high doses (especially by injection) within fifteen hours before delivery, it may cause breathing problems, muscle weakness, difficulty in feeding, and body temperature problems in the newborn infant.

Diazepam may pass into breast milk and cause drowsiness, slow heartbeat, shortness of breath, or troubled breathing in nursing babies.

Possible Side Effects
Side effects that may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medication and do not require medical attention unless they continue for several weeks or are bothersome: clumsiness or unsteadiness*; dizziness or lightheadedness; slurred speech*; abdominal cramps or pain; blurred vision or other changes in vision*; changes in sexual drive or performance*; constipation*; diarrhea; dryness of mouth; fast or pounding heartbeat; muscle spasm*; trouble with urination*; trembling*; unusual tiredness or weakness*.

Unusual side effects that should be discussed with your physician as soon as possible: behavior problems, including difficulty concentrating and outbursts of anger; confusion or mental depression; convulsions; hallucinations; low blood pressure; muscle weakness*; skin rash or itching; sore throat, fever, chills; unusual bleeding or bruising; unusual excitement or irritability.

Symptoms of overdose that require immediate emergency help: continuing confusion; unusually severe drowsiness; shakiness; slowed heartbeat; shortness of breath; slow reflexes; continuing slurred speech; staggering; unusually severe weakness*.

*Since it may be difficult to distinguish between certain common symptoms of MS and some side effects of diazepam, be sure to consult your health care professional if an abrupt change of this type occurs.

Medication Index

Other Medications Used to Treat Spasticity in MS

About Spasticity

Controlling Spasticity in MS
Self-help, treatment goals, therapies, and more.


Reprinted with permission from Rosalind C. Kalb (ed.), Multiple Sclerosis: The Questions You Have—The Answers You Need, 3rd Edition. New York: Demos Medical Publishing, Inc., 2004

Last updated December 21, 2004

     

 

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