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How to Use Muscle Relaxants

Muscle relaxants, sometimes also called sedatives, are a group of drugs used to control muscle spasms and relax muscles by affecting the central nervous system. They can help reduce discomfort, stiffness and fatigue along with treatments like exercise and physical therapy. Although they are very effective alone, it is not recommended that they be substituted in lieu of other therapies.

They are available only by prescription in the United States, but some countries do not necessarily require a prescription. Most are available in tablet form only.

The following are guidelines for the use of these medications:

1) Because muscle relaxants act on the nervous system, they should not be used in conjunction with alcohol or other drugs that also slow down the nerves. Using them together can actually increase the effects on the nervous system.

2) They can also increase the potentiation of anesthetics.

3) Do not drive or operate machinery unless you know how the drugs will effect you.

4) Some medications do not work well with muscle relaxants. Check with your physician before taking any over the counter medications. Be especially cautious if also taking medications for diabetes, depression, or seizures.

5) Consult your physician for any of the following conditions:
a) Allergies
b) Breastfeeding
c) Kidney disease
d) Heart problems
e) Hypothyroidism
f) Liver disease
g) Former drug user/alcohol user
h) Glaucoma
i) Urinary tract issues

6) Side effects can include drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, blurred vision, dry mouth or unsteadiness. Less common are stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, headache, heartburn and sleep problems. Most side effects are temporary and do not need medical attention unless they interfere with daily activities.

7) Breathing problems, irregular heartbeat, fever, loss of appetite, jaundice, chest pain, rash, burning or unusual thoughts are side effects that need immediate medical attention.

8) Some muscle relaxants can cause changes in the color of your urine. This is not harmful and the urine will return back to its normal color when the medications are discontinued.

9) Take the medication only as ordered. If you have any questions about missed doses, call your physician.

10) Some of these medications can cause dependence with long-term use. Several are classified as controlled drugs because of the potential for abuse.

11) Drugs that are not prescribed for someone by their physician may seriously harm them. Do not offer your medications to anyone else who may also be suffering with muscle pain and spasms.

12) Ask your physician how to dispose of discontinued or expired medications. Do not dispose of muscle relaxants in the sink or toilet or throw into the garbage can.

These are very effective drugs and can be potentially dangerous. Your good health depends on taking medications properly and having respect for their capacity to have specific effects both good and bad.

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