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Klonopin is an anti-anxiety agent, similar in many respects to Valium. It belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines. This class of drugs were once called minor tranquilizers or sedatives, and many such drugs are prescribed to calm jittery nerves and relieve excessive tension. It is prescribed primarily to control certain types of seizures. It is a relatively long-acting drug.

Side Effects and Interactions of Klonopin

Side effects associated with this medication include sedation, dizziness, and unsteadiness. These may fade after a few days or weeks.

Do not drive, operate machinery or undertake any activity that requires close attention.

Klonopin may make acute narrow angle glaucoma worse and should not be taken by people diagnosed with this condition.

Other possible reactions include confusion, depression, amnesia, hallucinations, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, coated tongue, dry mouth, constipation, visual problems, rash, hair loss, increased sex drive, urinary difficulties and palpitations. Please report any symptoms are experiencing to your physician promptly.

Do not drink alcohol or use any other sedative while on this drug, as the combination may increase the risk of dizziness, drowsiness, lack of coordination or confusion. Klonopin can affect blood cell counts and may raise liver enzymes. Periodic tests should be conducted to monitor these.

Many medicines, including narcotics, barbiturates and other sleeping pills, drugs for schizophrenia, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and MAO inhibitors (EldeprylNardil, Parnate) can interact with Klonopin to increase sedation.

Other possible interactions involve asthma drugs such as theophylline, AIDS drugs like Crixivan and Norvir, beta blockers metoprolol and propranlolTagamet, oral contraceptives, Luvox, tuberculosis treatments isoniazid and rifampin, Prilosec and Serzone.

Check with your pharmacist and physician to make sure Klonopin is safe in combination with any other medicines you take.

Special Precautions

The effectiveness of Klonopin may decline after many months on the medication. Dependence is a possibility with any benzodiazepine. Sudden discontinuation of the drug could trigger status epilepticus in patients taking it as an anticonvulsant.

Other withdrawal symptoms may include nervousness, agitation, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, fatigue, headache and nerve twitching. Never stop taking Klonopin without medical supervision. This medication may have to be phased out gradually over a period of weeks or months.

Klonopin is not appropriate for those with liver disease. It should not be prescribed for anyone who has had an allergic reaction to another benzodiazepine.

Taking the Medicine

Klonopin is taken three times a day. It may be taken with food, especially if it upsets your stomach

Carry identification (Medic-Alert) if you are taking this medication as an anticonvulsant.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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