Welldorm elixir (Chloral hydrate)
How does it work?
Welldorm elixir contains the active ingredient chloral hydrate, which is a type of medicine called a hypnotic. It has actions in the brain that result in sleepiness and is used to treat severe disabling sleeping difficulties. (NB. Chloral hydrate oral solution is also available without a brand name, ie as the generic medicine.)
Chloral hydrate decreases the time taken to fall asleep and increases the length of time spent sleeping. As chloral hydrate remains active in the body for many hours, drowsiness may continue into the next day.
The medicine should be taken 15 to 30 minutes before bedtime with milk or water.
What is it used for?
- Short-term treatment of severe sleeping difficulties (insomnia) that are interfering with normal daily life. This medicine is only used when other medicines have not been effective. It should be used in conjunction with non-drug therapies.
- This medicine causes drowsiness and impairs concentration and alertness. These effects are made worse by drinking alcohol. If you are affected you should avoid potentially hazardous tasks such as driving or operating machinery. Do not drink alcohol when taking this medicine.
- You should only take this medicine before going to bed at night. If you forget to take it at bedtime dont take it at any other time, or you will end up feeling drowsy, dizzy and confused during the day.
- Only one dose of this medicine should be taken per night, do not take a second dose if you still experience difficulty sleeping after taking the first dose, or if you wake in the night or early in the morning. Consult your doctor if you feel this medicine is not working well enough.
- Avoid getting this medicine in contact with the skin or eyes.
- This medicine is generally only suitable for short-term use (up to two weeks). If it is used for longer periods or in high doses, dependence upon the medicine may develop and delirium may occur if treatment is stopped suddenly. Your body may also become tolerant to the medicine, with higher doses needed to achieve the same effect. For this reason, you should not exceed the dose of this medicine prescribed by your doctor, or take it for longer than recommended. If you are still having trouble sleeping after this time you should consult your doctor for further advice.
Use with caution in
- Elderly people.
- Decreased liver function.
- Decreased kidney function.
- People with a history of alcoholism or drug abuse.
Not to be used in
- Children under two years of age.
- This medicine is also not generally recommended for older children and adolescents. If it is used in children older than two years of age this should only be under the supervision of a specialist. Treatment should be in addition to behavioural therapy and sleep-hygiene management and should not usually exceed two weeks.
- Severe liver disease.
- Severe kidney disease.
- Severe heart disease.
- People with an inflamed stomach lining (gastritis).
- Hereditary blood disorders called porphyrias.
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
- This medicine should not be used by pregnant women. Seek medical advice from your doctor.
- This medicine should not be used by breastfeeding mothers. Discuss this with your doctor.
- This medication is to be taken with plenty of water.
- This medication causes drowsiness which may continue the next day. If affected do not drive or operate machinery. Avoid alcoholic drink.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.
- Stomach irritation, including feeling sick and vomiting.
- Abdominal bloating.
- Wind (flatulence).
- Confusion (particularly in elderly people).
- Dizziness or loss of balance (particularly in elderly people).
- Drowsiness and lightheadedness the next day.
- Unusual excitement.
- Allergic skin reactions.
- Ketones in the urine.
- Tolerance to and dependence on the medicine (see warning section above).
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer. For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
How can this medicine affect other medicines?
It is important to tell your doctor or pharmacist what medicines you are already taking, including those bought without a prescription and herbal medicines, before you start treatment with this medicine. Similarly, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medicines while taking this one, to make sure that the combination is safe.
The sedative effect of this medicine will be increased if it is taken with any of the following, which can also cause drowsiness:
- antipsychotics, eg chlorpromazine, haloperidol
- barbiturates, eg phenobarbital, amobarbital
- benzodiazepines, eg diazepam, temazepam
- MAOI antidepressants, eg phenelzine
- other sleeping tablets, eg zopiclone
- sedating antihistamines, eg chlorphenamine, hydroxyzine, promethazine
- strong opioid painkillers, eg morphine, codeine
- tricyclic and related antidepressants eg amitriptyline, maprotiline.
This medicine may increase the anti-blood-clotting effects of oral anticoagulant medicines such as warfarin. If you are taking warfarin your doctor may want to check your blood-clotting time (INR) after you start and stop treatment with this medicine.
If a furosemide injection is administered to someone who has taken this medicine, it may cause sweating, hot flushes and changes in blood pressure due to a hypermetabolic state caused by an effect on thyroid hormone.
Other medicines containing the same active ingredient
Chloral hydrate oral solution is also available without a brand name, ie as the generic medicine.