Ambien effects

What are the main effects of Ambien on the body and brain? A thorough review of common side effects of Ambien here, with a section for your questions at the end.

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Ambien (zolpidem) is a prescription drug use for treating sleep disorders. It  belongs to a class of medications called “sedative-hypnotics”. Ambien is usually taken for no longer than 3-4 weeks as it can trigger strong physical and psychological dependence if taken longer, especially if you use it outside the manufacturer and FDA’s recommendations.

Dependence on Ambien manifests as a compulsive need for Ambien to cope with everyday stress, despite its negative consequences which can vary from mild to pretty severe. In this article, we review the possible effects of Ambien use. At the end, we invite you to ask your questions about long term use of Ambien or post your comments about Ambien effects. We try to respond to all true inquiries with a personal and prompt reply.

Ambien effects on the body

Ambien affects the body in such a way that it relaxes muscles and slows down the motor skills thirty (30) minutes following administration. Furthermore, it can cause extreme weariness and lack of energy due to its highly sedative effects. That is why Ambien should only be ingested immediately before going to bed and never when driving or doing something that requires concentration or physical strength.

Some people abuse Ambien to get high or enhance the sedative effects of other drugs. However, the effects of combined cocktails on the body can be extremely dangerous, as the central nervous system depressant combination makes effects of both drugs stronger, leading to possible overdose or even death.

Ambien effects on the brain

Ambien slows down brain activity by enhancing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the result of which is a drowsy and calm state. While this drug is most of the time effective for people struggling with short term cases of insomnia (3 weeks or less), it can have adverse side effects on the long run. The use of Ambien has been associated with memory problems such as:

  • amnesia
  • short term memory loss
  • forgetfulness

However, the most dangerous side effect of Ambien to the brain is addiction, a brain disease caused by regular drug use. Addiction to Ambien can, in turn, can give rise to a plethora of side effects.

Ambien effects on the mind

Ambien users have reported mind-altering effects such as visual and auditory hallucinations. The emergence of any such or similar effect requires urgent attention as it can be serious and life-threatening.

Ambien effects on personality and behavior

Apart from its sedative effects, Ambien use has been associated with personality and behavioral changes, some of which make provoke dangerous situations. Doing something in a half-asleep state is a common occurrence and the person usually has no memory of having done something the following day. While not everyone experiences personality and behavioral changes, drinking alcohol while on Ambien can increase the risk of such disorders to occur, or intensify them if they are already present. Common effects of Ambien on personality include:

  • abnormal thinking
  • aggression
  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • depression
  • emotional instability
  • nervousness

Ambien effects on the heart

Ambien rarely affects the heart but when it does it could cause rapid, strong, or irregular heartbeat, heartburn and in seldom cases, a heart attack.

Ambien effects on blood pressure

Ambien can lower blood pressure, especially if taken in a higher dose. Cases of temporary loss of consciousness as a result of low blood pressure have been reported following Ambien use. Other possible effects include cerebrovascular disorder, hypertension and palpitation.

Ambien effects on the liver

While Ambien can help people if they have trouble sleeping over the short-term, it may not be the right medication for those diagnosed with a liver problem. More specifically, Ambien can damage the liver cells, cause abnormal hepatic function and increased SGPT (serum glutamic-pyruvic transaminase) and SGOT (serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase). It is not recommended that people with liver problems use Ambien but if they insist, they MUST do so under a medical supervision.

Ambien effects on the lungs

Ambien can be quite damaging for the lungs, exposing a person the a risk of upper respiratory infections, respiratory depression an in rare cases respiratory failure. Other side effects that have been reported include:

  • bronchitis
  • dyspnea
  • epistaxis
  • hypoxia
  • laryngitis
  • pneumonia

Ambien effects on the nose, ears, and throat

Ambien may cause difficulty breathing, sore throat, runny and/or bleeding nose, inflammation of the sinuses, inflammation of the ear.

Ambien effects on eyes and pupils

Seeing double is a rather frequent occurrence for people taking Ambien,. Other ways in which Ambien affects the eyes is by causing eye irritations, eye pain, inflammation of the conjunctiva but these are less frequent.

Ambien effects on skin

Skin rashes, dermatitis, itching and swelling of the face, tongue and throat are possible reactions to Ambien. When this happens, it is usually because of an allergic reaction to some of the ingredients of the drug. It is important to inform prescribing doctors of possible allergies prior to starting Ambien therapy.

Ambien effects on teeth

In very rare cases, Ambien can cause tooth caries or cavities.

Ambien effects on sperm

Regular Ambien use can affect men by decreasing their sperm count and by increasing the number of immature sperm in semen.

Ambien effects on women

Women taking Ambien are likely to experience vaginal discharge, itching and pain as a result of vaginitis (inflammation of vagina tissue). Other possible effects of Ambien on women include breast abnormalities and decreased libido.

Ambien effects on the menstrual cycle

Ambien is likely to provoke heavy menstrual bleeding and other menstrual disorders.

Ambien effects on pregnancy

The FDA does not recommend the use of Ambien during pregnancy and lactation because it crosses the placenta. However, to date there are no specific studies in pregnant women to confirm the effects it could have on pregnancy.

Ambien effects on a fetus

Ambien can affect a fetus in such a way that when the child is born, s/he could experience withdrawal symptoms from the drug. Moreover, there is a risk of neonatal flaccidity during the postnatal period. However, more research is needed in order to justify these claims.

Ambien effects on breast milk

The effect of Ambien on nursing mothers is not known as yet, but the FDA warns that it should be taken with care and only if the potential benefit is bigger than the potential risk. Studies indicate that the half-life of zolpidem is similar to that in young subjects (2.6 ± 0.3 hr) and somewhat between 0.004% and 0.019% of the total administered dose is excreted into milk.

Ambien effects questions

Please contact us if you have any questions about Ambien effects and we will be happy to provide you with an answer. Or, if we do not know the answer, we will refer you to someone who can help you.

Reference Sources: DHS Wisconsin State: Ambien
FDA: Access Data on Ambien
NHTSA: Ambien (zolpidem)
NIH: Medline Plus: Ambien
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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