Flumazenil: An Antidote for Benzodiazepine Sedatives
What is Flumazenil?
Flumazenil is an intravenous solution used to reverse the effects of benzodiazepine sedatives such as Valium, Versed, Xanax, Tranxene, and others. It is commonly used to help patients wake up after a surgery or medical procedure in which a benzodiazepine was used as a sedative. Flumazenil is also used to treat benzodiazepine overdose in adults.
Flumazenil may cause seizures, especially in people who have sedative-addiction withdrawal symptoms or recent antidepressant overdose, people who have recently received injectable benzodiazepines, or people who had symptoms of a seizure just before receiving flumazenil. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about the risk of seizure.
Before Taking Flumazenil
Flumazenil may cause seizures, especially in people withdrawing from sedative addiction, those who have recently taken an antidepressant overdose, those who have recently received injectable benzodiazepines, or those who had seizure-like symptoms just before receiving flumazenil. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about the risk of seizure. You should not receive flumazenil if you are allergic to flumazenil or any type of benzodiazepine sedative, or if you have taken an overdose of certain antidepressant medication. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
How is Flumazenil Given?
Flumazenil is given as an infusion into a vein by a healthcare provider. Your breathing, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and other vital signs will be closely monitored after you receive flumazenil. You may have temporary amnesia while waking up from sedation, and may not remember everything going on around you for up to 2 hours.
Missed Dose and Overdose
Since flumazenil is given in a clinical setting, missing a dose or overdosing is unlikely to occur.
What to Avoid After Receiving Flumazenil
For at least 24 hours after leaving the hospital or surgery center, do not drive or do anything else that requires you to be awake and alert. Your reactions could be impaired. Also avoid taking any over-the-counter medications for at least 24 hours, especially if you still feel sedated. Do not drink alcohol for at least 24 hours after receiving flumazenil, or if you still feel sedated.
Flumazenil Side Effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction such as hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Tell your caregiver right away if you experience weak or shallow breathing, ongoing drowsiness, confusion, agitation, tremors, dizziness, chest pain and severe dizziness, rapid pulse, fast or pounding heartbeats, or a light-headed feeling like you might pass out. Common side effects of flumazenil may include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, increased sweating, flushing, vision problems, or pain where the medicine was injected.
Other Drugs that Affect Flumazenil
Receiving flumazenil after taking large doses of certain antidepressants can cause dangerous or life-threatening side effects. Tell your doctor before receiving flumazenil if you have recently taken an antidepressant such as amitriptyline, doxepin, clomipramine, desipramine, imipramine, or nortriptyline. Other drugs may also affect flumazenil, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.
More About Flumazenil
For more information about flumazenil, consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
Professional Resources and Related Treatment Guides
For healthcare professionals, additional resources and treatment guides are available for flumazenil.