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- What are barbiturates?
- For what conditions are barbiturates prescribed?
- What are examples of barbiturates available in the US?
- What are the side effects of barbiturates?
- What drugs interact with barbiturates?
- What formulations of barbiturates are available?
- What about taking barbiturates during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?
What are barbiturates?
Barbiturates are central nervous depressants. They reduce the activity of nerves causing muscle relaxation. They can reduce heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. All barbiturates affect gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter (chemical) that nerves use to communicate with one another.
What are examples of barbiturates available in the US?
Examples of barbiturates available in the US include:
What are the side effects of barbiturates?
Common side effects of barbiturates are:
Barbiturates can slow breathing, reduce heart rate, and they can be habit forming.
What drugs interact with barbiturates?
Barbiturates should be used with caution with some medications because they accelerate the breakdown of these medications leading to decreased effectiveness. Examples of these medications that interact with barbiturates include:
- atazanavir (Reyataz),
- boceprevir (Victrelis),
- lurasidone (Latuda),
- ranolazine (Ranexa),
- telaprevir (Incivek),
- voriconazole, (Vfend), and
- ritonavir (Norvir).
Concomitant use of barbiturates and other central nervous system depressant medications should be used with caution because concomitant use can lead to excessive sedation, lethargy, and in severe cases coma and death. Examples of these medications that should be used with caution with other central nervous system depressant medications such as:
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What formulations of barbiturates are available?
- Amobarbital and pentobarbital are available as injections.
- Butabarbital, phenobarbital, belladonna and phenobarbital, butalbital/aspirin/caffeine, and butalbital/acetaminophen/caffeine are available as tablets.
- Butalbital/acetaminophen/caffeine, butalbital/aspirin/caffeine, and secobarbital are available as capsules.
- Butabarbital, phenobarbital, belladonna and phenobarbital, and butalbital/acetaminophen/caffeine are available as oral liquids.
What about taking barbiturates during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?
FDA has listed amobarbital, phenobarbital, pentobarbital, secobarbital as Pregnancy Category D. This means they should not be used during pregnancy. FDA has listed belladonna and phenobarbital, butabarbital, butalbital/acetaminophen/caffeine, and butalbital/acetaminophen/caffeine as Pregnancy Category C. Pregnancy Category C classification means that there is no evidence of safe and effective use of barbiturates established for pregnant women. Therefore, risk to the infant cannot be ruled out. It is not known whether barbiturates enter breast milk; however, barbiturates should be avoided in nursing mothers to avoid harm to the infant.
Barbiturates are a class of drugs prescribed to treat headaches, insomnia, and seizures. Examples of barbiturates include belladonna and phenobarbital (Donnatal), butalbital/acetaminophen/caffeine (Esgic, Fioricet), butalbital/aspirin/caffeine (Fiorinal Ascomp, Fortabs), butabarbital (Butisol), amobarbital (Amytal), pentobarbital (Nembutal), and secobarbital (Seconal).
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Related Disease Conditions
Headaches can be divided into two categories: primary headaches and secondary headaches. Migraine headaches, tension headaches, and cluster headaches are considered primary headaches. Secondary headaches are caused by disease. Headache symptoms vary with the headache type. Over-the-counter pain relievers provide short-term relief for most headaches.
Migraine headache is a type of headache associated with a sensitivity to light, smells, or sounds, eye pain, severe pounding on one side of the head, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. The exact cause of migraine headaches is not known. Triggers for migraine headaches include certain foods, stress, hormonal changes, strong stimuli (loud noises), and oversleeping. Treatment guidelines for migraines include medicine, pain management, diet changes, avoiding foods that trigger migraines, staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, and exercising regularly. Prevention of migraine triggers include getting regular exercise, drinking water daily, reducing stress, and avoiding trigger foods.
Seizures Symptoms and Types
Seizures are divided into two categories: generalized and partial. Generalized seizures are produced by electrical impulses from throughout the brain, while partial seizures are produced by electrical impulses in a small part of the brain. Seizure symptoms include unconsciousness, convulsions, and muscle rigidity.
Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which the person has seizures. There are two kinds of seizures, focal and generalized. There are many causes of epilepsy. Treatment of epilepsy (seizures) depends upon the cause and type of seizures experienced.
Sleep Disorders (How to Get a Good Night's Sleep)
A number of vital tasks carried out during sleep help maintain good health and enable people to function at their best. Sleep needs vary from individual to individual and change throughout your life. The National Institutes of Health recommend about 7-9 hours of sleep each night for older, school-aged children, teens, and most average adults; 10-12 for preschool-aged children; and 16-18 hours for newborns. There are two stages of sleep; 1) REM sleep (rapid-eye movement), and 2) NREM sleep (non-rapid-eye movement). The side effects of lack of sleep or insomnia include: Irritability Tiredness Feeling sleepy during the day Concentration or memory problems Lack of sleep and insomnia can be caused by medical conditions or diseases, medications, stress, or pain. The treatment for lack of sleep and insomnia depends upon the cause.
Teen Drug Abuse
Drugs commonly abused by teens include tobacco products, marijuana, cold medications, inhalants, depressants, stimulants, narcotics, hallucinogens, PCP, ketamine, Ecstasy, and anabolic steroids. Some of the symptoms and warning signs of teen drug abuse include reddened whites of eyes, paranoia, sleepiness, excessive happiness, seizures, memory loss, increased appetite, discolored fingertips, lips or teeth, and irritability. Treatment of drug addiction may involve a combination of medication, individual, and familial interventions.
Insomnia is the perception or complaint of inadequate or poor-quality sleep because of difficulty falling asleep; waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep; waking up too early in the morning; or unrefreshing sleep. Secondary insomnia is the most common type of insomnia. Treatment for insomnia include lifestyle changes, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication.
Insomnia Treatment (Sleep Aids and Stimulants)
Insomnia is difficulty in falling or staying asleep, the absence of restful sleep, or poor quality of sleep. Insomnia is a symptom and not a disease. The most common causes of insomnia are medications, psychological conditions, environmental changes and stressful events. Treatments may include non-drug treatments, over-the-counter medicines, and/or prescription medications.
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