How does it work?
Clonazepam is a type of medicine called a benzodiazepine. This type of medicine acts on nerve cells in the brain.
The brain and nerves are made up of many nerve cells that communicate with each other through electrical signals. These signals must be carefully regulated for the brain and nerves to function properly.
When abnormally rapid and repetitive electrical signals are released in the brain, it becomes over-stimulated and normal function is disturbed. This results in fits or seizures.
Clonazepam works by acting on receptors in the brain called GABA receptors. This causes the release of a neurotransmitter called GABA in the brain. GABA is involved in transmitting messages between the nerve cells and acts as a natural 'nerve-calming' agent. It helps keep the nerve activity in the brain in balance. By increasing the release of GABA, clonazepam helps to calm the excessive electrical nerve activity that is responsible for causing seizures Clonazepam is used to help to reduce the frequency and severity of fits in people with epilepsy.
What is it used for?
Clonazepam is used to treat various different forms of epilepsy, including absence seizures (petit mal epilepsy), generalised tonic-clonic seizures (grand mal epilepsy), partial seizures and myoclonic seizures.
How to take it?
Clonazepam can be taken either with or without food.
Your doctor will start you off on the lowest dose of clonazepam and then gradually increase your dose over a period of two to four weeks until a suitable dose for you is reached.
To start off with you should take the prescribed daily dose in three or four divided doses. This means taking the medicine three or four times a day with approximately the same time intervals between each dose. If it is not possible to divide the daily dose into equal doses then you should take the largest dose at bedtime. Once your maintenance dose has been reached it will usually be possible for you to take your total daily dose as a single dose at bedtime. Follow the instructions given by your doctor or pharmacist.
It is important to take your medication regularly, as directed by your doctor, because missing doses can trigger seizures in some people. If you have trouble remembering to take your medicine you should ask your pharmacist for advice. You may find a pill reminder box helpful.
Do not stop taking this medication except on your doctor's advice.
Who should not take it?
-Patients in a coma.
-People who are known to be abusing pharmaceuticals, drugs or alcohol.
-People with a condition involving abnormal muscle weakness (myasthenia gravis).
-People with severe breathing problems or a sudden worsening of any underlying lung disease (acute pulmonary insufficiency).
-People with a syndrome where breathing stops for short spells during sleep (sleep apnoea syndrome).
-People with severely decreased liver function.
-People who are allergic to any other medicine in the benzodiazepine family, eg diazepam, temazepam.
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.
If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
What side effects are possible with it?
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.
- Drowsiness and sleepiness.
- Concentration difficulties.
- Decreased co-ordination.
- Delayed reactions.
- Muscle weakness.
- Shaky movements and unsteady walk (ataxia).
- Loss of memory following an epileptic seizure (anterograde amnesia).
- Changes in behaviour such as aggression, anxiety, agitation, nervousness.
- Nightmares or vivid dreams.
- Difficulty with speech.
- Involuntary eye movements (nystagmus).
- Double vision.
- Skin reactions such as rash, itching, changes in pigmentation.
- Hair loss (reversible if treatment is stopped).
- Sexual problems such as loss of sex drive or erectile dysfunction.
- Urinary incontinence. - Heart failure. - Slow, shallow breathing (respiratory depression).
- Increased saliva or phlegm production (in infants and young children only).
- Physical and psychological dependence on the medicine can occur with benzodiazepines like this one, particularly if high doses are used for long periods of time. The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer.
How to store it?
Keep Clonazepam in a cool dry place where the temperature stays below 30°C. Do not store it, or any other medicine, in a bathroom or near a sink. Do not leave it in the car or on window sills. Heat and dampness can destroy some medicines. Keep Clonazepam where young children cannot reach it.