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Ambien FAQ

Getting a good night's sleep is crucially important, but often we need some help. Ambien is a prescription drug used to treat insomnia and other sleep problems. Sanofi-Aventis designed Ambien as an alternative to traditional sleeping pills. The medication guide for Ambien identified the drug as a central nervous system depressant or a "zolpidem product."

While Ambien is the brand name for this medication, the generic drug is known as zolpidem tartrate. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration first approved Ambien in 1999. Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC manufactures and distributes the drug.

This article covers some frequently asked questions about Ambien's safety and what to do if prescription Ambien or similar drugs harm you.

Is the use of Ambien safe?

In most cases, everything will be fine if you use your Ambien as your doctor instructs. However, the drug does have a significant impact on your central nervous system. You may still suffer side effects even if you take the proper dose.

It's important to talk to your healthcare provider if you experience any side effects, such as:

  • Short-term memory loss
  • Abnormal thoughts
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Sleep-driving
  • You don't remember what you did the next day

Ambien can have serious side effects. It acts as a sedative-hypnotic, which means you may not always remember what you did while under the drug's effect.

You should contact your healthcare provider if you feel sick after using Ambien. You should also reach out to a personal injury lawyer, as you may have a claim against the drug manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC.

Are there studies about Ambien's safety?

Most people take Ambien because they are having trouble sleeping. They seek medical advice, and their doctor prescribes Ambien as a sleep aid. Ambien is a controlled substance with several potential adverse side effects.

For the most part, you'll likely only experience excessive sleepiness. If you aren't comfortable with the common side effects, your doctor will explain whether alternate treatment options are available. This is a good idea if the side effects are worsening.

Unfortunately, even if you take this medication as instructed, you may experience serious side effects. Patients taking Ambien have reported sleepwalking, sleep-related eating, and temporary memory loss or amnesia while under the influence of the drug. Many don't realize they did any of this the next morning.

Is there proof that Ambien may be dangerous?

To avoid legal action, Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC issued a statement indicating that, while sleepwalking has occurred during treatment with Ambien, it is a rare adverse event. They also claimed that there are no systemic links to their product. If you take the drug for short-term use, you shouldn't experience any problems.

However, in 2013 the FDA issued a statement recommending that patients taking Ambien avoid driving the day after using Ambien CR.

Some patients may experience increased emotional and negative memories when taking Ambien. According to a 2010 study in the U.S. News and World Report, experts have linked Ambien to an increased early death rate in those who take Ambien regularly.

Does Ambien cause amnesia?

Ambien and other sleep medicines like Xanax can cause temporary memory loss or amnesia. A patient may forget what happened after taking the Ambien and before it wears off. To avoid memory problems, you should only take Ambien before a whole night's sleep.

Are there special precautions to observe before taking Ambien?

Ambien should only be used for short periods (one or two days) and generally for one or two 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 while taking Ambien.

Because it can cause emotional or negative memories, you should consult with your healthcare professional if you have unusual or strange thoughts while taking Ambien. Ambien is habit-forming, so your healthcare professional may want you to gradually reduce the amount you take before discontinuing use.

As with any other medication, there is a risk of Ambien addiction. This is especially true if you are taking high doses. You may experience withdrawal symptoms. After discontinuation, you may experience rebound amnesia for several nights.

What should I tell my healthcare professional before they prescribe Ambien?

Your healthcare professional needs specific information before they prescribe Ambien. Some of this information includes:

  • Allergies you may have
  • Whether you may be pregnant or are breast-feeding
  • If you abuse alcohol or drugs or have in the past
  • Whether you are currently using opioids
  • If you have any severe medical conditions such as emphysema, asthma, bronchitis, kidney disease, liver disease, or a chronic lung disease
  • Any mental health issues that may prevent you from taking sleep aids

What are Ambien's side effects?

Besides the side effects of Ambien listed above, you may also experience the following:

  • Severe or persistent drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, gas, heartburn
  • Stomach pain or tenderness
  • Burning or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs
  • Cold symptoms

Tell your prescribing medical professional immediately if you experience any of these side effects.

Also, if you experience rashes, hives, itching, pounding heartbeat, chest pain, or fever, you should immediately notify your doctor or another medical professional. If you have any breathing problems while sleeping, such as sleep apnea, you should inform your doctor immediately.

Are there interactions between Ambien and other drugs or food?

Ambien and other medicines can interact with each other. You should never take Ambien if you are taking another zolpidem product because they are both central nervous system depressants. When taken together, they can cause death.

Always tell your prescribing physician about other medicines you take. This includes other non-prescription medications, vitamins, and even herbal supplements. Inform your doctor if you drink alcohol or have taken another zolpidem product.

What should I do if I think using Ambien injured me?

If you or a loved one believes Ambien has caused you harm, you should seek appropriate medical treatment. You may also want to consult with an experienced product liabilitymedical malpractice, or personal injury attorney to learn more about your legal options.

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