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Clonazepam (also known as Rivatril, Rivotril, Ravotril or Klonopin) belongs to the group of benzodiazepine medications, and it’s used as a muscle relaxant, and for the treatments of seizures and anxiety. It is also used to treat epileptic seizures and panic disorders in some patients. This medication is not considered the primary drug used to treat acute seizures. Clonazepam is also not recommended for the long term therapy of epilepsy, because patients could develop tolerance to this medication.

Use and Mechanism of Action

Doctors may prescribe Clonazepam for epilepsy, panic disorders, anxiety, parasomnias or even as the treatment for mania. It can also be used to treat bruxism, rapid eye movement behavior disorder, restless leg syndrome or akathisia. This drug works as all other benzodiazepines, modulating the function of GABA (gamma amino butyric acid, neurotransmitter) in the brain.

Adverse Effects

Clonazepam is known to cause some side effects, and people using this medication should be aware of them. Most of the patients prescribed with this drug that had any side effects, complained about headaches, loss of appetite, dry mouth, increased production of saliva, runny nose, coughing and constipation. There were reports about increased tiredness, nervousness, lightheadedness, dizziness, clumsiness and drowsiness, also associated with Clonazepam.

In most cases doctors differentiate unwanted effects for the patients using Clonazepam to treat seizures and those who use this drug to treat panic disorders.

Seizure patients are most likely to experience depression of the central nervous system, such as drowsiness, ataxia and behavior problems. Some other neurologic problems were less frequent, including: vertigo, tremor, speech and vision problems, headaches, respiratory depression or even coma. These patients may also have problems with some psychiatric issues, like: depression, confusion, hallucinations, psychosis, insomnia or suicidal attempts. There were reported cases of some paradoxical reactions associated with the taking of Clonazepam such as agitation, aggressive behavior, irritability, anxiety, sleeping problems and hostility.

Other potential side effects could include: blood and liver problems, weight issues (weight gain or loss), weakness and pain in the muscles and loss of hair. There could be some respiratory and gastrointestinal problems, related to Clonazepam use. Patients have reported dry mouth, diarrhea, constipation, gastritis and sore gums.

Severe adverse effects may be due to allergic reactions to this drug, which are usually described as the rash, itching and swelling of the mouth, tongue or lips. Patients may also experience breathing problems and tightness in the chest.

Watch for behavior changes, increased hostility or aggression, serious drowsiness or worsening seizures, since these can be very serious problems.

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