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Pharmacy and Medications

Potassium Nitrate Affecting Neurotransmitters



I used Sensodyne and it is disrupting the chemicals that promote sleep. How long does it take to rid the body of this chemical? Can the damage be undone. My Dr. wants me to take Elavil Amytryptyline, but it makes me dizzy. is there another way or do i just wait until it leaves my body? My sinuses are a little raw also. Thanks1


Thank you for contacting NetWellness. Sensodyne contains the active ingredients potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride. The potassium nitrate is thought to block the transmission of sensitive nervous impulses, which helps decrease the painful sensitivity of the teeth to sweet or sour and hot or cold substances. There is not any available information in any literature or studies that suggests potassium nitrate causes a disruption of sleep. Nitrates in general have a half life of 5 hours, which means once taken, nitrates would be out of your system in 16.5 hours.

Insomnia is a common complaint.

Some symptoms of insomnia are difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and difficulty with early morning awakening. Sometimes insomnia only lasts for a short time and can be easily managed. Persistent insomnia is more troublesome and can affect work, school, social relationships, and health.

Many conditions are associated with insomnia such as depression, anxiety, allergies, and pain. Much of the time insomnia is simply the result of poor sleep habits. Maintaining a sleep diary for one to two weeks is a good way to start. Keeping track of sleep times, caffeine and alcohol ingestion, etc. may provide clues as to the cause of insomnia.

Behavioral changes are often all that is needed to improve sleep. By maintaining good sleep habits (sleep hygiene), the need for medication may be avoided. Good sleep hygiene includes:

1. Stick to a regular sleep schedule, exercise regularly.
2. Go to bed only when sleepy.
3. Put your worries away when you go to bed.
4. Do something relaxing and enjoyable before bedtime.
5. Make your bedroom quiet and comfortable.
6. Avoid large meals just before bedtime.
7. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sexual activity.
8. If you cannot sleep within 15 to 20 minutes, get up and go to another room. Return to bed only when drowsy.
9. Remove the clock from eyesight.
10. Do not nap during the day; if you must nap, limit it to 30 minutes in the early afternoon.
11. Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine use.
12. Avoid frequent use of sedatives.
13. Schedule outdoor time at the same time each day.
14. Have your pharmacist check your medications for potential sleep effects.
15. Avoid bright lights (e.g. from TV, computers, video games) before bed.

Relaxation therapy and stimulus control therapy can also be tried for insomnia.

Elavil (Amitriptyline) is a tricyclic antidepressant that is commonly used to treat insomnia. Some common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, weight changes, trouble focusing, and trouble going to the bathroom.

Take Care,
Submitted by: Angela Passero, PharmD Candidate, The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy

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Response by:

Sarah Hudson-DiSalle, PharmD, RPh
Specialty Practice Pharmacist of Outpatient Pharmacy
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University