Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed December 14, 2016
Q: What is Ambien?
Ambien is a prescription drug used to treat insomnia, and is classified as a central nervous system depressant or a "zolpidem product." Ambien was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1999 and is manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis.
Q: Has there been any recent news about Ambien?
Patients taking Ambien have reported sleepwalking, sleep-related eating, and temporary memory loss or "amnesia" while under the influence of the drug. Sanofi-Aventis issued a statement indicating that while sleepwalking has occurred during treatment with Ambien, this is a rare adverse event and the instances reported cannot be systematically linked to the product.
Some patients may experience an increase in emotional and negative memories when taking Ambien. According to a study quoted by the U.S. News and World Report, Ambien may be linked to an increased death rate in those who take Ambien regularly.
In 2013, the FDA issued a statement recommending that patients taking Ambien avoid driving the day after using Ambien CR.
Q: Does Ambien cause amnesia (memory loss)?
Ambien and other sleep medicines like Xanax can cause temporary memory loss or "amnesia." A patient may forget what has happened during the period after taking the Ambien and before it wears off. To avoid memory problems, you should only take Ambien before a full night's sleep.
Q: Are there any special precautions I should observe before taking Ambien?
Ambien should only be used for short periods of time (such as 1 or 2 days) and generally for no longer than 1 or 2 weeks. Taking Ambien may cause you to feel drowsy, dizzy, lightheaded, or less alert. You should check with your doctor immediately if you feel clumsy or unsteady. Also, do not operate heavy machinery or perform tasks requiring coordination.
Because Ambien can cause emotional or negative memories, if you have unusual or strange thoughts while you are taking Ambien, you should consult with your healthcare professional. Ambien is habit-forming, so your healthcare professional may want you to gradually reduce the amount you are taking before discontinuing use. After discontinuation, you may experience rebound amnesia for several nights.
Q: What should I tell my healthcare professional before he or she prescribes Ambien?
Your health care professional needs to know about any allergies you may have, whether you may be pregnant or are breast-feeding, if you abuse alcohol or drugs or have in the past, or if you have serious conditions such as emphysema, asthma, bronchitis, kidney disease, liver disease, or a chronic lung disease. If you have depression or breathing problems while sleeping such as sleep apnea, you should inform your doctor.
Q: What are the side effects associated with Ambien?
Besides the side effects listed above, you may also experience severe or persistent: drowsiness; headache; dizziness; the feeling of being drugged; loss of coordination; upset stomach; vomiting; constipation; diarrhea; gas; heartburn; stomach pain or tenderness; changes in appetite; shaking of a part of the body that you cannot control; burning or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs; unusual dreams; dry mouth or throat; cold symptoms; pain or pressure in the face; ringing, pain, or itching in the ears; eye redness; blurred vision or other vision problems; muscle aches or cramps; joint, back, or neck pain. If you experience any of these side effects you need to tell your prescribing medical professional immediately.
Also, if you experience rash, hives, itching, pounding heartbeat, chest pain, or fever, you should notify your doctor or another medical professional right away.
Q: Are there any interactions between Ambien and other drugs or foods?
Ambien and other medicines can interact with each other. You should never take Ambien if you are taking another zolpidem product, as these are both central nervous system depressants and this can cause death. Always tell your prescribing doctor about every medicine you take - prescription, non-prescription, vitamins, and even herbal supplements. Also inform your doctor if you drink alcohol or have taken another zolpidem product.
Q: What should I do if I think I have been injured as a result of using Ambien?
If you or a loved one believe Ambien has caused you harm, you should first seek appropriate medical treatment. You may also want to consult with an experienced products liability or medical malpractice attorney to learn more about your legal options.
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