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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ambien: What You Might Want To Know

Ambien is in the news a lot, or so it seems. If you are not familiar with Ambien, it is one of the brand names used for the prescription sleeping medication Zolpidem. It works quickly, usually within 15 minutes, and it has a short half-life.

So why talk about Ambien? Try searching on Google for Ambien. The search results may surprise you. Everything from famous people indicating that they believe they took Ambien and then found themselves behind the wheel of their vehicle having had some kind of motor vehicle accident to the average senior citizen submitting questions about Ambien to AARP.

A good overview of possible long term effects of Ambien is provided by Eric J. Olson, MD of the Mayo Clinic
"It's unlikely you'll become dependent on zolpidem (Ambien). Ambien and similar sleep medications are effective and are much less likely to be habit-forming than are some other drugs sometimes prescribed for sleep problems — for example, benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan) or flurazepam (Dalmane).
However, relying on a sleep medication generally isn't the best long-term solution for insomnia. Medications can mask an underlying problem that needs treatment. They can also cause side effects. For example, some people who take Ambien and similar medications such as eszopiclone (Lunesta) do things while asleep that they don't remember — such as driving, or preparing and eating food. In rare cases, these medications may trigger a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
Sleep medications can be useful in the short term — but the best approach is to address whatever's causing your sleep problems in the first place. If you still have trouble sleeping, other therapies include learning new sleep habits, getting counseling for anxiety or other psychological concerns and using stress-reduction techniques."

This past Sunday, July 15, 2012, ABC Evening News covered some of the reported side effects of Ambien

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If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Like any medication, Ambien should be taken with care. Discuss with your doctor all other medications that you are currently taking before using Ambien. Follow all instructions and contact your physician if you notice any side effects.
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