Lorazepam belongs to a group of medicines called benzodiazepines. It’s used to treat anxiety and sleeping problems that are related to anxiety. It can be taken to help you relax before an operation or other medical or dental treatment. This is known as a “pre-med”. Lorazepam is available on prescription only. It comes as tablets and as a liquid that you swallow. It can also be given as an injection in hospital if you’re having a seizure or fit. It’s also known by the brand name Ativan.
- Lorazepam tablets and liquid start to work in around 20 to 30 minutes. The full sedating effect lasts for around 6 to 8 hours.
- The most common side effect is feeling sleepy (drowsy) during the daytime.
- It’s not recommended to use lorazepam for longer than 4 weeks.
- If lorazepam makes you feel sleepy, do not drive, ride a bike or use tools or machinery.
- Do not drink alcohol while taking lorazepam. It can make you sleep very deeply.
Who can and cannot take lorazepam
Lorazepam can be taken by adults and children aged 13 years and older for anxiety.
It can also be taken by adults and children aged 5 years or older as a “pre-med”.
Lorazepam is not suitable for everyone.
To make sure it’s safe for you, tell a doctor before starting lorazepam if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to lorazepam or any other medicine in the past
- have liver or kidney problems
- have breathing or chest problems
- have myasthenia gravis, a condition that causes muscle weakness
- have sleep apnoea, a condition that causes breathing problems when you’re asleep
- have (or have had) depression or thoughts of harming yourself
- have been diagnosed with personality disorder
- have (or have had) problems with alcohol or drugs
- have arteriosclerosis, a condition that affects blood flow
- are trying to get pregnant, are already pregnant or breastfeeding
- have glaucoma, a condition that causes high blood pressure in the eye
- are going to have a general anaesthetic for an operation or dental treatment
How and when to take it
Always take lorazepam exactly as a doctor or pharmacist has told you.
Lorazepam tablets come as 0.5mg, 1mg and 2.5mg tablets. The liquid contains 1mg of lorazepam in each 1ml.
The usual dose for:
- anxiety – 1mg to 4mg each day; your doctor will tell you how often you need to take it
- sleep problems – 1mg to 2mg before bedtime (lorazepam will start to work in around 20 to 30 minutes)
- a pre-med for adults – 2mg to 3mg the night before the procedure and then 2mg to 4mg about 1 to 2 hours before your procedure
- a pre-med for children aged 1 month to 11 years – dose will depend on the child’s weight
- a pre-med for children aged 12 to 17 years and up – 1mg to 4mg the night before the procedure and/or at least 1 hour before the procedure
If you’re older than 65 years or have liver or kidney problems, a doctor may recommend a lower dose.
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