Ativan For Nausea and Vomiting

How Ativan Can Help You During Chemotherapy Treatment

Lorazepam drug molecule
The Lorazepam drug molecule. LAGUNA DESIGN/Getty Images

Ativan, known generically as lorazepam, is a medication used to treat seizures, reduce anxiety disorders, and induce sleep and muscle relaxation. It is also used to treat nausea and vomiting. It has also been prescribed to aid in alcohol withdrawal, irritable bowel syndrome, and insomnia. For people undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer, Ativan is prescribed to prevent and treat the nausea and vomiting that often follow treatment.

How Can Ativan Help During Chemotherapy?

The most common side effects of chemotherapy are nausea and vomiting. The treatment or anxiety about treatment may cause mild to severe bouts of nausea and vomiting. Ativan can help relieve these side effects.

What are the Side Effects of Ativan?

You may experience fatigue, dizziness and weakness while taking Ativan. Other side effects include feelings of depression, sleep problems, and sleepiness. Let your doctor know about the side effects you are experiencing. If it becomes bothersome, other anti-nausea medications can be prescribed. Sometimes it takes trying out a few different medications before finding the best one for you.

Before stopping or changing the dosage of Ativan, speak to your doctor.

How is Ativan Given?

Available only by prescription, Ativan is most often prescribed in a tablet form that can be swallowed or dissolved under the tongue. It can also be administered intravenously (IV) or by injection, which is helpful if you have severe vomiting.

For cancer patients, Ativan is normally prescribed "as needed," meaning you won't need to take the medication on a regular schedule. If you have chronic nausea and vomiting, other medications may be prescribed, or taken in addition to Ativan.

What if Ativan Doesn't Work for Me?

If Ativan doesn't help with your nausea and vomiting, your doctor may change the dosage or prescribe another anti-nausea medication.

It may take a few tries to find the medicine that works best for you.

Important Information About Ativan

  • Do not drink alcohol while taking Ativan. It can increase the effects of alcohol.
  • Ativan can become habit-forming. Follow your doctor's exact instructions when taking and stopping this medicine.
  • Your doctor needs to be made aware of any medical issues you may have. This includes breathing problems, kidney or liver disease, glaucoma, a history of depression, suicidal thoughts, or an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
  • Your doctor must be made aware of any other medications you are taking. This includes prescription, herbal supplements, and over-the-counter medications.
  • Ativan has a sedative effect. Use caution when driving and operating heavy machinery. Your doctor will let you know if you should not drive or operate heavy machinery based on your tolerance and dosage.

Measures You CanTake to Prevent Nausea and Vomiting During Chemotherapy

You can take steps to reduce the risk of developing nausea and vomiting during your treatment.

Some of these include:

  • Eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of fewer, larger meals. Don’t skip a meal and eat a light one a few hours before you begin treatment.
  • Eat food that you like. Try to avoid sweets or fried or fatty foods. Try to cook meals ahead of time and freeze them in advance of your treatment.
  • Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
  • Wear clothing that is loose fitting.
  • Practice relaxation techniques that include meditation and deep breathing.

These steps may reduce or prevent nausea and vomiting during your chemotherapy treatment but they do not take the place of Ativan in the treatment of nausea and vomiting. 

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