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Pronounced: ZAN-ax
Generic name: Alprazolam

Why is this drug prescribed: Xanax is a tranquilizer used in the short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety or the treatment of anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorder is marked by unrealistic worry or excessive fears and concerns. Xanax is also used in the treatment of panic disorder, which appears as unexpected panic attacks and may be accompanied by a fear of open spaces called agoraphobia. Only your doctor can diagnose panic disorder and best advise you about treatment. Anxiety associated with depression is also responsive to Xanax. Some doctors prescribe Xanax to treat alcohol withdrawal, fear of open spaces and strangers, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and premenstrual syndrome.

Most important fact about this drug: Tolerance and dependence can occur with the use of Xanax. You may experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop using the drug abruptly. Only your doctor should advise you to discontinue or change your dose.

How should you take this medication: Xanax may be taken with or without food. Take it exactly as prescribed. --If you miss a dose... If you are less than 1 hour late, take it as soon as you remember. Otherwise skip the dose and go back to your regular schedule. Never take 2 doses at the same time. --Storage instructions... Store Xanax at room temperature.

What side effects may occur: Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking Xanax. Your doctor should periodically reassess the need for this drug. Side effects of Xanax are usually seen at the beginning of treatment and disappear with continued medication. However, if dosage is increased, side effects will be more likely. More common side effects may include: Abdominal discomfort, abnormal involuntary movement, agitation, allergies, anxiety, blurred vision, chest pain, confusion, constipation, decreased or increased sex drive, depression, diarrhea, difficult urination, dream abnormalities, drowsiness, dry mouth, fainting, fatigue, fluid retention, headache, hyperventilation (too frequent or too deep breathing), inability to fall asleep, increase or decrease in appetite, increased or decreased salivation, impaired memory, irritability, lack of coordination, light-headedness, low blood pressure, menstrual problems, muscular twitching, nausea and vomiting, nervousness, palpitations, rapid heartbeat, rash, restlessness, ringing in the ears, sexual dysfunction, skin inflammation, speech difficulties, stiffness, stuffy nose, sweating, tiredness/sleepiness, tremors, upper respiratory infections, weakness, weight gain or loss Less common or rare side effects may include: Abnormal muscle tone, concentration difficulties, decreased coordination, dizziness, double vision, fear, hallucinations, inability to control urination or bowel movements, infection, itching, loss of appetite, muscle cramps, muscle spasticity, rage, sedation, seizures, sleep disturbances, slurred speech, stimulation, talkativeness, taste alterations, temporary memory loss, tingling or pins and needles, uninhibited behavior, urine retention, warm feeling, weakness in muscle and bone, weight gain or loss, yellow eyes and skin Side effects due to decrease or withdrawal from Xanax: Blurred vision, decreased concentration, decreased mental clarity, diarrhea, heightened awareness of noise or bright lights, impaired sense of smell, loss of appetite, loss of weight, muscle cramps, seizures, tingling sensation, twitching

Why should this drug not be prescribed: If you are sensitive to or have ever had an allergic reaction to Xanax or other tranquilizers, you should not take this medication. Also avoid Xanax while taking the antifungal drugs Sporanox or Nizoral. Make sure that your doctor is aware of any drug reactions that you have experienced. Do not take this medication if you have been diagnosed with the eye condition called narrow-angle glaucoma. Anxiety or tension related to everyday stress usually does not require treatment with Xanax. Discuss your symptoms thoroughly with your doctor.

Special warnings about this medication: Xanax may cause you to become drowsy or less alert; therefore, driving or operating dangerous machinery or participating in any hazardous activity that requires full mental alertness is not recommended. If you are being treated for panic disorder, you may need to take a higher dose of Xanax than for anxiety alone. High doses--more than 4 milligrams a day--of this medication taken for long intervals may cause emotional and physical dependence. It is important that your doctor supervise you carefully when you are using this medication. Remember that withdrawal symptoms can occur when Xanax is stopped suddenly.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking this medication: Xanax may intensify the effect of alcohol. Do not drink alcohol while taking this medication. Never combine Xanax with Sporanox or Nizoral. These drugs cause a buildup of Xanax in the body. If Xanax is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is important to check with your doctor before combining Xanax with the following: Amiodarone (Cordarone) Antihistamines such as Benadryl and Tavist Carbamazepine (Tegretol) Certain antibiotics such as Biaxin and erythromycin Certain antidepressant drugs, including Elavil, Norpramin, and Tofranil Cimetidine (Tagamet) Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) Digoxin (Lanoxin) Diltiazem (Cardizem) Disulfiram (Antabuse) Ergotamine Fluoxetine (Prozac) Fluvoxamine (Luvox) Grapefruit juice Isoniazid (Rifamate) Major tranquilizers such as Mellaril and Thorazine Nefazodone (Serzone) Nicardipine (Cardene) Nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia) Oral contraceptives Other central nervous system depressants such as Valium and Demerol Paroxetine (Paxil) Propoxyphene (Darvon) Sertraline (Zoloft)

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding: Do not take this medication if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. There is an increased risk of respiratory problems and muscular weakness in your baby. Infants may also experience withdrawal symptoms. Xanax may appear in breast milk and could affect a nursing infant. If this medication is essential to your health, your doctor may advise you to stop breastfeeding until your treatment with this medication is finished.

Recommended dosage: ADULTS: Anxiety disorder The usual starting dose of Xanax is 0.25 to 0.5 milligram taken 3 times a day. The dose may be increased every 3 to 4 days to a maximum daily dose of 4 milligrams, divided into smaller doses. Panic disorder The usual starting dose is 0.5 milligram 3 times a day. This dose can be increased by 1 milligram a day every 3 or 4 days. You may be given a dose from 1 up to a total of 10 milligrams, according to your needs. The typical dose is 5 to 6 milligrams a day. Your doctor will reassess your treatment periodically to be sure you're getting the right amount of medication. CHILDREN: Safety and effectiveness have not been established in children under 18 years of age. OLDER ADULTS: The usual starting dose for an anxiety disorder is 0.25 milligram, 2 or 3 times daily. This dose may be gradually increased if needed and tolerated.

Overdosage: Any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. If you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms of Xanax overdose may include: Confusion, coma, impaired coordination, sleepiness, slowed reaction time An overdose of Xanax, alone or after combining it with alcohol, can be fatal.

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