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Pharmacy/Ativan -- Side Effects

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Question
Rx  1 mg Ativan for intermittent use for anxiety.  Tapered off Rx a few months ago.  However, I  was recently dx with ataxia, ataxic gait, nystagmus and RUE and RLE disdidokinesias. I experience  occasional abnormal cramps and bending of toes of the right foot. Neuro also noted a slight R foot drop.

MRI negative; labs unremarkable.  

Very concerned that I may be experiencing early signs of PD.  However, also heard that my symptoms may be side effects of Ativan.  

My question: could Ativan cause the unilateral side effects?  Or, would the drug cause bilateral symptoms?  Is this typical of the drug, even though I haven't taken any in months?

Thanks for your help,
Brooke

Answer
Hi,

The ativan 1mg most likely did not cause these symptoms or side effects, whether unilateral or bilateral.  These symptoms or side effects are more typical of the drug if taken in high enough doses and/or taken frequently (ie 3mg every 4 hours) and/or taken for years consecutively.  Although these symptoms may occur at lower doses, at a less frequent dosing schedule (ie 0.25mg by mouth once daily as needed), and if taken intermittently, it is not common.  I am not a medical doctor but your signs and symptoms are most likely indicative of something else.  MRIs and labs are not the only diagnostic tools available.

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Nanaz Khosrowshahi

Expertise

Being a pharmacist, I can answer questions on medications. This includes how drugs work in the body, drug interactions, drug side effects, warnings and precautions to take when using certain medications, dosage forms and strengths, management of overdosing, storage of medications, drug administration, contraindications, and drug indications. I am able to guide them on lab work that needs to be drawn and monitored while on certain medications. I am able to help patients save money when purchasing medications by directing them to cost-effective therapies. I am able to answer questions on federal laws governing pharmacy practice in the United States. I am unable to answer questions legally as if I am diagnosing the patient's disease or illness. For example, if a patient stated he had upper flank pain, I am unable to say he definitely has a urinary tract infection. However, I am able to direct the patient to the correct next step, which is to call his physician with such a side effect.

Experience

I have been a licensed pharmacist since 2007, holding licenses in CT and MA. I have a PHARM.D from an accelerated pharmacy school program. Currently, I work at the Hebrew Home and Hospital in West Hartford, CT as a pharmacist. I am a well-rounded pharmacist, with experience in long-term care, IV home infusion, retail, hospital, and hospice. I serve as the pharmacy unit coordinator for Mass Dispensing Area #31 in CT, where I am called upon as a volunteer pharmacist in case of public emergencies, such as anthrax threats. I helped run the swine flu vaccine clinic in 2009. I am on the Editorial Advisory Board for Pharmacy Today, a publication of the American Pharmacists Association. My position on the board runs for three years. Every month I make suggestions and offer ideas that would help improve the magazine. I have undergone extra training to administer vaccines to patients, which is training that only a certain percentage of registered pharmacists in the country have.

Organizations
American Pharmacists Association 2007

Education/Credentials
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Worcester, MA- PHARM.D 2007 University of California, Irvine- BA psychology 2001 cum laude

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