Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic that causes CNS depression. It is indicated as a short-term treatment for insomnia in adults. Although insomnia is not considered an illness, it can cause much distress and can affect well being. Usually, these patients are at increased risk for Ambien overdose.
The signs and symptoms of an Ambien overdose will vary depending on several factors that include the total amount of Ambien taken, the duration of use, and other medications or substances taken along with it.
What are the Symptoms of Ambien Overdose?
Some of the common symptoms of Ambien overdose include the following:
- Excessive tiredness (somnolence)
- Light coma or loss of consciousness for a long time
- Slowed heart rate or heart failure
- Slowed breathing or lung failure
Although rare, severe overdoses can lead to loss of life. Mortality cases due to Ambien are often associated with concurrent use of other medications and substances such as alcohol along with Ambien.
What to Do If an Overdose Is Suspected?
If you suspect an overdose, you must contact the healthcare provider right away or visit the Emergency Department. In case you do not know the victim’s healthcare provider, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
If the victim is unconscious or is not breathing, call your local emergency services (911) right away. Do not delay seeking medical assistance to prevent fatal complications.
How to Treat Ambien Overdose?
Treatment of Ambien overdose varies depending on the condition of the patient. Your healthcare provider may prescribe drugs or irrigate the stomach by placing a tube. However, if the ingested dose of Ambien has already been absorbed by the body, there is little that can be done to remove it quickly. Normally, the treatment involves supportive care such as managing symptoms resulting from the overdose. The patient must be closely monitored for any untoward effects on the lungs or heart.
To avoid complications, it is important to seek medical attention right away.
How to Prevent Ambien Overdose?
Since the potential effects of an overdose is quite alarming, prevention should be your goal. In order to avoid an overdose, it is important to take it exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
If you do not understand the prescription or have any questions about it, talk with your healthcare provider. As much as possible, strive to take the lowest dose possible and do not increase the dose unless instructed by your physician. As a matter of fact, clinical studies show that increasing the dosage of Ambien does not really help make your sleep better. There’s actually no point putting your life at risk by taking higher doses of Ambien. Some healthcare providers would recommend using this drug only when necessary or taking it on alternate days.
Most importantly, you should focus on improving your sleep hygiene. Non-pharmacological measures that can help make your sleep better are highly encouraged. Some possible interventions include
- limiting caffeine;
- nicotine and alcohol intake;
- increasing daytime activities;
- avoiding strenuous activity right several hours before bedtime;
- properly managing stress and anxiety;
- learning and practicing relaxation techniques;
- and developing healthy sleeping habits.