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Drugs

Side Effects
Serious

Hallucinations, confusion, excitability, skin rash, hives. Stop taking the drug and call your doctor immediately.
Common

Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain or abdominal discomfort, hangover-like symptoms, drowsiness.
Less Common

Diarrhea, loss of coordination, dizziness or lightheadedness.
Chloral Hydrate


Drug Class:
Sedative/hypnotic

Available OTC?: No

Available Generic?: Yes

Generic 500 mg
(Schein)
Available In
Why Prescribed
How It Works
Range and Frequency
Onset of Effect
Duration of Action
Dietary Advice
Storage
Missed Dose
Stopping the Drug
Prolonged Use
Over 60
Driving and Hazardous Work
Alcohol
Pregnancy
Breast Feeding
Infants and Children
Special Concerns
Overdose Symptoms
What to Do
Drug Interactions
Food Interactions
Disease Interactions


Available In
Capsules, syrup

Why Prescribed
For the short-term treatment of insomnia. Chloral hydrate is being replaced by safer, more effective drugs for this purpose.

How It Works
Drugs such as chloral hydrate depress activity in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), producing a mild sedative effect.

Range and Frequency
Adults: 250 to 1,500 mg, 30 minutes before bedtime.

Onset of Effect
Within 30 minutes.

Duration of Action
From 4 to 8 hours.

Dietary Advice
Both oral forms of chloral hydrate should be taken shortly after meals. They may be taken with a full glass of a liquid such as water, fruit juice, or ginger ale to improve flavor and minimize stomach upset.

Storage
Store in a tightly sealed container away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Avoid extremes in temperature.

Missed Dose
If it is near the time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your regular dosage schedule. Do not double the next dose.

Stopping the Drug
The dosage will be gradually reduced to prevent withdrawal effects.

Prolonged Use
Chloral hydrate may be habit-forming. Prolonged use increases the risk of drug dependency.

Over 60
Adverse reactions may be more likely and more severe in older patients.

Driving and Hazardous Work
Avoid such activities until you determine how this medication affects you.

Alcohol
Avoid alcohol while taking this drug.

Pregnancy
Adequate studies of the use of chloral hydrate during pregnancy have not been done. Before taking chloral hydrate, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Breast Feeding
Chloral hydrate passes into breast milk; caution is advised. Consult your doctor for advice.

Infants and Children
Chloral hydrate should be used by children only under a doctor's supervision.

Special Concerns
Swallow the capsules whole. Do not chew them, since chloral hydrate has an unpleasant taste. Make sure your doctor has specifically indicated to your pharmacist both how many milligrams and how many capsules or teaspoonfuls you or your child should receive in a single dose.

Overdose Symptoms
Severe nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain; difficulty swallowing; severe drowsiness; continuing confusion; seizures; low body temperature; difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; irregular heartbeat; severe weakness; staggering; slurred speech.

What to Do
Call your doctor, emergency medical services (EMS), or the nearest poison control center immediately.

Drug Interactions
The following drugs may interact with chloral hydrate. Consult your doctor for specific advice if you are taking anticoagulants, tricyclic antidepressants or central nervous system depressants

Food Interactions
No food interactions have been reported.

Disease Interactions
Caution is advised when taking chloral hydrate. Consult your doctor if you have any of the following: kidney or liver problems, ulcers or other intestinal problems, esophagitis, or sleep apnea.

Date Published: 04/13/2005
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