What are the risks and warnings for baclofen?

Baclofen can cause some serious health issues. This risk may be even higher for certain groups. If this worries you, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about other options

Withdrawal symptoms

  • Risk factors: Taking baclofen for a long time | Stopping baclofen suddenly | Newborns whose mothers took baclofen during pregnancy

If you’ve taken baclofen for a long period of time and you suddenly stop taking it, you can experience serious problems including hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there), muscle stiffness, or seizures. Talk to your healthcare provider if you’d like to stop taking baclofen. They can help you lower your dose safely.

Similar withdrawal symptoms can also happen to newborn babies right after birth if you took baclofen consistently (e.g., every day) during your pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking baclofen, let your provider know right away. There might be a safer alternative for you.

Effect on driving and concentration

  • Risk factors: Taking with alcohol or illicit drugs | Taking other medications that cause drowsiness | People over 65

Taking baclofen can make you feel sleepy and affect your concentration and focus. Don’t drink alcohol while taking this medication because it can make these side effects worse. Avoid activities that require you to be alert, like driving or operating machinery, until you know how the medication affects you.

Higher risk of side effects if you have kidney problems

  • Risk factors: History of kidney problems

If you have kidney problems, be careful using baclofen. Baclofen is processed by the kidneys, and if they aren’t working properly, the medication can build up in your body. This buildup can raise your risk of side effects, like drowsiness and dizziness, or make them more intense. To prevent these issues, you’ll most likely need to take lower doses of baclofen.

Poor response or tolerability to baclofen if you’ve had a stroke

  • Risk factors: History of a stroke

If you’ve had a stroke in the past, baclofen might not work well and be more likely to cause side effects. Let your provider know if you’ve ever had a stroke before starting baclofen. They can discuss if the medication is right for you or if there are other options that might be safer.

Worsening of other health conditions

Speak to your provider before taking baclofen if you have any health conditions because this medication might make certain conditions worse. Baclofen can worsen conditions like mental health problems, high blood pressure (autonomic dysreflexia), and seizures.

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