FRENY MENEZES
By Freny Menezes

Pharm. D

09 October 2022
Medically reviewed by
Kajal Jain
M. Pharm
valium-for-seizures
Table of Contents

Diazepam, also known as Valium, belongs to the class of benzodiazepines. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the prescription medication valium to treat Anxiety, muscle spasms, and convulsive disorders. It is occasionally prescribed beyond its approved uses for treating epilepsy and is used with other medications to manage seizures. 

There are several forms of diazepam on the market, including nasal sprays, rectal gel with an applicator, and oral tablets that can be taken with or without food. 

Despite its pharmacokinetic and adverse effect limitations, diazepam remains an essential tool in managing status epilepticus because of its rapid and broad-spectrum effect. Let us see more in-depth how Valium works in treating seizures.

What Are Seizures?

A seizure is an uncontrolled storm of electrical activity in the brain that causes temporary abnormalities in your feelings, behavior, movements, and level of consciousness. It is often used interchangeably with 'convulsion.' Having at least two seizures around 24 hours apart, an identifiable cause that doesn't bring that on is generally viewed as epilepsy. Epilepsy is defined as at least two unprovoked seizures that occur within 24 hours and are unrelated to any known illness.

Febrile seizures, first seizures, nonepileptic events, and eclampsia are conditions involving seizures that might not be associated with epilepsy. Regardless of the type of seizure, it is important to inform your doctor when anyone occurs.

There are two major groups of seizures, i.e., generalized onset and focal onset seizures. The Focal onset of a seizure starts in one part and can spread across the brain. Depending on the spread of electrical discharges, it can cause mild to moderately severe symptoms. At the same time, generalized onset seizures can start as focal onset that spread to both sides of the brain.

Most seizures last for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. A seizure lasting more than 5 minutes calls for a medical emergency. Many times, the cause of the seizure is unknown. However, it can happen after a closed head injury, stroke, an infection such as meningitis, or other illness.

Medications can control most seizures, but managing seizures can still significantly impact your lifestyle. Fortunately, you can take help from your healthcare provider to balance seizure control and medication side effects.

Is Valium A Real Solution To Seizures?

Valium (Diazepam) is a member of a group of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are commonly used in epilepsy as a rescue medicine on an "as needed" basis. Valium has been prescribed for various medical conditions, including seizure disorders, muscle spasms, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, since being approved by the FDA in 1963. 

These treatments aim to rapidly stop seizures to prevent an emergency or assist in treating one. This is done while under the care of a healthcare provider. Benzodiazepines like Valium are classified as Schedule IV controlled substances. 

These medications do not replace your daily seizure medication and should not be taken daily. Contact your healthcare provider on how to use your rescue medication properly.

How Does Valium Work?

Valium works by acting on the chemical GABA at different sites of receptors in the brain. GABA minimizes the activity in other brain areas, including regions that help control thought, emotion, memory, and automatic functions such as breathing. 

Valium can be administered through mouth, parenteral or rectal route. Valium takes nearly 1-5 minutes to show its effect when administered parenterally. When taken orally, people usually start to feel the impacts 15 min to 1 hr after ingestion. Its rectal gel shall be used for those experiencing seizures and begins working quickly after administration.

Valium stays in your system for a certain period and shows its effect:

  • Urine: Up to six weeks
  • Blood: Up to 48 hours
  • Hair: Up to 90 days
  • Saliva: Up to 10 days

Valium Dosage

Valium dose for treating seizures is-

  • Oral- 2-10 mg every 6-12 hours as an adjunct, OR
  • Rectal- 0.2 mg/kg, repeat after 4-12 hours as needed

Side Effects of Valium

Valium may cause some side effects. Talk to your doctor if you observe any severe symptoms that do not go away. The common side effects include-

  • Tiredness
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty or frequent urination
  • Problems with balance or muscle movement
  • Change in sex drive
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness

 If Valium is stopped abruptly after long-term use, it might lead to seizures, insomnia, nausea, headache, lightheadedness, vomiting, sweating, Anxiety, hallucination, confusion, suicidal or abnormal thoughts, and fatigue.

Contact your medical practitioner at once if you have the following:

  • Confusion, paranoia
  • Severe drowsiness or dizziness
  • Trouble breathing
  • New or worsening seizures

Valium during pregnancy may also cause some side effects in the fetus. Also, Valium should be avoided during breastfeeding as it is secreted in breast milk and might affect the newborn.

Drug Interaction of Valium With Other Seizures Medications

The interaction between any two medicines does not always mean that an individual must stop taking one of them. In many cases, interactions are intended or managed by close monitoring. Talk to your doctor about how drug interactions are being governed or should be addressed.

Valium might interact with other seizure medications, including carbamazepine, phenytoin, clobazam, topiramate, levetiracetam, primidone, valproic acid, phenobarbital, and zonisamide.

Apart from seizure medications, Valium interacts with the following-

  1. Alcohol
  2. Antipsychotics (such as chlorpromazine and haloperidol)
  3. Antifungals (such as ketoconazole, itraconazole)
  4. Antihistamines (such as cetrizine, diphenhydramine)
  5. Other benzodiazepines (such as lorazepam, alprazolam)
  6. Barbiturates (such as phenobarbital, butalbital)
  7. Calcium channel blockers (such as verapamil and diltiazem)
  8. Macrolide antibiotics (such as erythromycin and clarithromycin)
  9. Muscle relaxants (such as methocarbomol, baclofen)
  10. SSRIs, TCAs
  11. Theophyllines
  12. Cannabis

Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you are on any of the above medications or other drugs.

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions

Valium is a diazepam drug in its generic version. It functions by inhibiting brain nerve activity in cases of epilepsy. Diazepam is also available as an oral solution, injection, and rectal gel.

A Prescription is required to buy Valium, as it can be habit-forming and lead to addiction and abuse. The WHO reports that with fair, appropriate treatment, up to 70% trusted source of people with epilepsy could stop experiencing seizures by taking anti-seizure medicine.

You should consult a doctor to design the most suitable dosage plan for Valium based on your age and medical history. And indeed, if everything works together really well, Valium can be a unique advantage medication for Seizures.

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  • Parikh, Nikunj MD. Rectal Valium for Seizures. Emergency Medicine News: August 2005 - Volume 27 - Issue 8 - p 3 Obtain On 09/10/2022
  • Appletan, Richard, et al. "Lorazepam versus diazepam in the acute treatment of epileptic seizures and status epilepticus." Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 37.8 (1995): 682-688. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8749.1995.tb15014.x Obtain On 09/10/2022
  • Dreifuss, Fritz E., et al. "A comparison of rectal diazepam gel and placebo for acute repetitive seizures." New England Journal of Medicine 338.26 (1998): 1869-1875. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM199806253382602 Obtain On 09/10/2022
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