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Having headache and blood pressure. Subjected to necrotizing poison. What can be done?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2003
Answered : 1582 Questions
Hi, I was subjected to a necrotizing poison 13 years ago. Of the 7 of us, theyougest (a doctor, 33 y/o) dies. The other are mostly non-functional. I apmed up to 8 hours of exercise (redoing houses).

Now, the FDA comes in and says my 20 mg has got to go to 5. As it is, I break each tablet up 3 ways do that with about 1 hour, more, or less, I get 6 hours.
Was taken down to 10. Within a week, if i try to move my bowels (no straining), there is a hellacious headache ripping up my spine and my BP stays over 220/200 for 2 hours, and slowly somes back to normal. The autonomic sysyem can't handle it. This will kill me but my doc says not my problem, following FDA guidelines.

Did you test this stuff on long term users. I know several others who are dying from this. Why?

Took a sleep study. Sleep apnea was 7.3 (5 is normal and to 20 is mild.)
Wierd thing, the technician says that when I try to get in Stage 3, my mind "skitters" back to Statge 2. No REM -0. I draw the curtains at 7:00, read a book from 10:00, do all the sleep hygiene stiff. Only the Ambien on the study got me to Stage 3 - 10 mg for about 25 minutes.

By the way, I have looked everywhere - the doctors here are scared silly of the FDA ruling, all huddled in their now huge conglomerate. No independent thinking here. There was no independent thinkers. When the FDA says it is up to the providers, let them come to Richmond for their care.

Sorry about my spelling - I need to learn to type. I thought that was what secretaries were for - to keep us straight. (They really do)

Just realized, you do know I am talking about Ambien/Zolpidem tartrate? Sorry
Wed, 3 Jul 2013 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Vaishalee Punj 12 hours later

Thanks for posting your query on XXXXXXX

From your query, it seems that you have trouble sleeping and medicine that was working for you is not available in the doses that you need. Only Ambien is able to drift you into deeper stages of sleep as per the sleep study.

You are right, the latest recommendation by FDA is to give zolpidem at 5 mg dose. It is also advised that this medicine (or any other sleep medicine) is not advised for prolonged periods as it is habit forming. In USA, the doctors will not deviate away from the FDA recommendations. Usually FDA recommendations are for the benefit of the drug users only. Yes there has been research on this medicine.

I can understand that you are suffering because you are unable to have a refreshing sleep. My recommendation will be to try a few days without Ambien and let your body adapt to the new situation. Human body adapts quickly.

If you are suffering from pain or muscle spasms, then take medicines for these conditions so that you are able to sleep. Take appropriate pain-killers for the pain. Muscle relaxants are usually prescribed for muscle spasms. Also keep a track of your blood pressure and talk to your doctor about sudden increases in BP.

Let me know if I can assist you further.

Dr Vaishalee
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Having headache and blood pressure. Subjected to necrotizing poison. What can be done? 6 days later
Thank you for your answer. I have tried for as much as 3 weeks recently to function without the Ambien. Each day I hurt more and am less functional. I have been told by two neurologists that environmental toxins can cause "architectural" changes to ability to sleep.

Any ideas?


Answered by Dr. Vaishalee Punj 9 hours later
Hi again

The sleep changes are very much evident from your sleep study. Many toxins can alter the sleep architecture. In your case you have no REM and it is hard for you to transit from stage 2 to stage 3 and beyond.

The medicine you were taking for inducing sleep can cause decreased REM. So it is possible that Ambien was actually making the sleep architecture worse. While it was able to induce sleep, it was interfering with the transition into deeper stages of sleep. This effect can cause daytime sleepiness and even depression.

I am thinking that we should consider alternatives to make you more comfortable. The alternatives can include non-benzodiazepine sedatives (like zaleplon and zolpidem), sedating anti-depressants (like amitryptiline) and even over-the-counter sedating anti-histamines. Non-benzodiazepine sedatives are less-addicting but again cannot be prescribed for prolonged periods. Sedating anti-depressants may have side-effects but can be tried for you.

Medicines that keep you awake during day-time like amphetamines or modafinil (a new drug) can be tried. This may help you in getting a better sleep at night.

Ambien withdrawal may cause some symptoms like REM rebound, which means that your REM sleep may get better.

Hope this helps.

Dr Vaishalee
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Having headache and blood pressure. Subjected to necrotizing poison. What can be done? 10 hours later

I have tried all the alternatives you have mentioned. I have had this problem since September 22, 2001, so I have had plenty of time to do so. None have helped except for Ambien. And I had serious reactions to several antidepressants tried and oddly to anti-histamines (perhaps because so mich of my entire arm, and who knows what inside of me, was eaten up by the toxin?).

In fact, even with the Ambien, I have to break the 10 mg. tabs into two parts, which with 20 mgs. gives me 4 tabs. With luck, when I wake up (and I never can sleep more than 2 hours and cannot go back to sleep without help) I take another 1/2 and end up with 6 - 8 hours of broken sleep. Without Ambien, I dose off but do not sleep and rapidly decline over the week.

I have used Ambien for 12 years, without any side effects whatsoever. I have not had any accidents of any kind, by car or otherwise. I lead a normal life and don't have any of the sleepwalking or other issues I have heard about.

There are so many drugs out there that are so much more dangerous; yet they have not been singled out in this way.

At the risk of being overly dramatic, the FDA may well have signed my death warrant by making such a blanket ruling.

Are there any countries that allow 20 mg. of Ambien? I am serious. I may have to move there. I may have no choice.

Thanks for your help.

Answered by Dr. Vaishalee Punj 19 hours later

Zolpidem should be available in other countries at higher doses.

In India it is available with prescription and is available mostly in 5 mg and 10 mg doses with various companies. The brand names available in India are not Ambien but other brands.

Dr Vaishalee
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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