Ativan‘s (lorazepam) primary indication is an anti-anxiety medicine. It also is used as a rescue medicine for prolonged seizures. It is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat seizures in adults, but may be prescribed to treat status epilepticus (prolonged seizures) in children with Dravet syndrome.

How Ativan works

Dravet syndrome is a serious form of epilepsy disorder characterized by seizures that begin in infancy and usually are resistant to treatment with anticonvulsants. Prolonged seizures require emergency medical assistance because they greatly increase the risk of brain damage or physical injury.

Ativan is a type of benzodiazepine, a type of medication that affects nerve signaling in the brain. Ativan works by enhancing the effect of an inhibitory neurotransmitter or cell signaling molecule called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA works to reduce the excitability of neurons, in effect “turning down” the signal emitted by nerve cells and decreasing the output nerve signal.

Ativan acts on the GABA receptor. It binds to a region of the receptor called the benzodiazepine allosteric modulatory site making the receptor more sensitive to GABA. So, the addition of Ativan ensures that when GABA binds to its receptor, nerve signaling is turned down more than usual.

Ativan can be used to diminish seizure severity and end prolonged seizures in Dravet syndrome patients.

Other information

To treat seizures, Ativan is injected into the bloodstream by a nurse or physician.

The medicine can cause several side effects including drowsiness, blurred vision, insomnia, nausea, and rash. The side effects in children may be more prolonged. It is especially important that the child does not try to get in and out of bed by themselves for a day or two following Ativan treatment, as they may become dizzy and fall.

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