A new report shows that the number of emergency room visits linked to the sleep medication zolpidem -- the active ingredient in Ambien, Ambien CR, Eldular and Zolpimist -- rose nearly 220 percent in five years.

In 2005, 6,111 ER visits were linked to the drug, and that spiked to 19,487 visits in 2010. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report also found that patients 45 or older represented 74 percent of the 2010 visits. Women accounted for 68 percent of emergencies.

In 2010 there were 4.9 million drug-related visits to emergency departments throughout the nation.

Zolpidem is an FDA-approved medication for short-term treatment of insomnia. In January 2013, the FDA responded to adverse reactions by halving the recommended dose for females. FDA also suggested that manufacturers reduce the recommended dose for men.

Adverse reactions include daytime drowsiness, dizziness, hallucinations, agitation, sleepwalking and drowsiness while driving. When zolpidem is combined with other substances, its sedative effects can be dangerously enhanced. This is especially true when zolpidem is combined with certain anti-anxiety medications and narcotic pain relievers. In 2010 half of all ER visits related to zolpidem involved its use with other drugs.

Read more at Science Daily.

PHOTO: JB Reed/Bloomberg/Getty Images

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