- Usually the benefits of Diastat far outweigh the mild to moderate side effects.
- Side effects generally go away within hours, and with no lasting harm.
- Serious problems are very rare.
- People given diazepam by injection occasionally need help with breathing, especially if they have other breathing problems or have taken sedating medicines.
- Breathing problems are extremely rare when either Diastat or Valtoco are used. The risk is slightly higher when more than one dose is given.
- Caregivers should watch for signs of breathing problems (for example, slowed breathing or a change in the color of the skin) and call for help if needed.
Central Nervous System Depression
All benzodiazepines can cause CNS depression which means it affects how the brain may work.
- For example, the medicines may cause drowsiness, affect alertness and thinking.
- If a person feels very sleepy, dizzy or uncoordinated for a period after using one of these medicines, they should avoid activities where they could get injured.
Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior
On July 10, 2008, an advisory panel was convened by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review data that the FDA had previously collected from drug studies showing an association between many of the antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) and suicidal ideation and behavior, which together are called suicidality. According to the FDA’s Alert, among the patients with epilepsy in these drug studies, 1 out of 1000 people taking the placebo (inactive substance) showed suicidality compared to approximately 3.5 out of 1000 people who took an AED. The FDA advisory panel voted to accept the FDA's data at its meeting on July 10.
Taking antiepileptic medicines may increase the risk of having suicidal thoughts or actions:
- Do not make any changes to the medication regimen without first talking with the responsible healthcare professional.
- Pay close attention to any day-to-day changes in mood, behavior and actions. These changes can happen very quickly so it is important to be mindful of any sudden differences.
Be aware of common warning signs that might be a signal for risk of suicide. Some of these are:
- Talking or thinking about wanting to hurt yourself or end your life
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Becoming depressed or having your depression get worse
- Becoming preoccupied with death and dying
- Giving away prized possessions
We again urge patients and families to contact their doctor before stopping an epilepsy medication because this may possibly lead to seizures and worsening of mood.
Changes in Vision (Glaucoma): Diazepam may cause an increase in eye pressure in people with open-angle glaucoma.
Other potentially serious side effects: Increased seizure tolerance
- Some people with epilepsy who take diazepam or other benzodiazepines daily may have more frequent or severe seizures if the medicine is lowered or stopped.
- Developing tolerance and needing a higher dose to get the same effect could also be a problem with daily diazepam.
- Since Diastat and Valtoco are not used daily, these concerns are much less likely to arise.