Ambien (Zolpidem)

Ambien (Zolpidem) is an oral medication that belongs to a group of medicines called central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which act to slow down the nervous system and treat insomnia.

Why Prescribed

Ambien is used to treat insomnia, or trouble with sleeping, and helps patients get to sleep faster and sleep through the night.  Ambien also works quickly—usually allowing patients to fall asleep within 30 minutes of ingestion.

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FDA Approved Uses

Ambien (Zolpidem) is FDA approved for the short-term treatment of insomnia.

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Side Effects

Ambien side effects can include dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting; falling—more common in older adults; fast heartbeat; hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there); skin rash; swelling of the face; unusual excitement, nervousness, or irritability; wheezing or difficulty in breathing.  Signs of an overdose are severe drowsiness, severe nausea or vomiting, and staggering.

Further, Ambien is regularly popping up as a factor in traffic arrests - motorists under the influence of Ambien have been reported to smash into parked cars, plow over sidewalks and drive in the wrong direction, all the while oblivious to the destruction. These drivers are supposedly 'blacking out' after ingesting the drug and are not even remembering getting behind the wheel, according to a study in The New York Times.

In some state toxicology laboratories, Ambien shows up in the top 10 list of drugs found in impaired drivers. In Wisconsin, Ambien was detected in the bloodstreams of 187 arrested drivers from 1999 to 2004. Often, these drivers later say they were sleep-driving and have no memory of any events that followed taking the drug.

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Warnings and Alerts

Worsening of insomnia or the emergence of new thinking or behavior abnormalities may be the consequence of an unrecognized psychiatric or physical disorder. Such findings have emerged during the course of treatment with sedative/hypnotic drugs, including Ambien. Because some of the important adverse effects of Ambien appear to be dose related, it is important to use the smallest possible effective dose, especially in the elderly.

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Drug Contraindications

Ambien will add to the effects of alcohol and other CNS depressants (medicines that slow down the nervous system, possibly causing drowsiness).

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What should I tell my doctor before he/she prescribes Ambien to me?

Some conditions may affect how Ambien works for you. Be sure to tell your doctor if you:

  • Drink alcohol
  • Have a history of alcohol or drug dependency
  • Are pregnant or breast-feeding
  • Have any breathing difficulties, such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema
  • Have a history of depression or currently are experiencing depression
  • Have liver disease

How fast will I fall asleep after taking Ambien?

Quickly—usually within 30 minutes. So, only take Ambien right before going to bed and when you can devote a full 7 to 8 hours to sleep.

Can I file a lawsuit if I have suffered injury due to ‘blacking out’ on Ambien?

Evidence has shown that Ambien can cause a side effect where the user is half asleep and half awake. The manufacturer failed to warn of this potential side effect, and there have been thousands of reported adverse events.

Ambien lawsuits are being investigated for individuals who took the medication and suffered serious injuries as a result if:

  • Sleep-driving or falling asleep while operating heavy machinery
  • Sleepwalking
  • Sleep eating
  • Memory loss or amnesia
  • Daytime sleepiness or feeling of being drugged, resulting in an accident or fall

If you or a loved one has suffered injury or property damage as a result of 'blacking out' after taking Ambien, contact an experienced drug litigation attorney to discuss your claim and the legal options available to you.

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