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Ribavirin

Ribavirin Uses

Ribavirin is used in combination with other antiviral medications (such as interferon, sofosbuvir) to treat chronic (long-lasting) hepatitis C, a viral infection of the liver. Chronic hepatitis C infection can cause serious liver problems such as scarring (cirrhosis), or liver cancer. Ribavirin works by reducing the amount of hepatitis C virus in your body, which may help your liver recover.

It is not known if this treatment can prevent you from passing the virus to others. Do not share needles, and practice "safer sex" (including the use of latex condoms) to lower the risk of passing the virus to others.

How to use Ribavirin

Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start taking ribavirin and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Also read the drug information for your other antiviral medication(s).

Take this medication by mouth as directed by your doctor, usually twice daily with food. Swallow this medication whole. Do not crush, break or chew the capsules.

The dosage and length of treatment is based on your age, weight, medical condition, and response to treatment.

This medication works best when the amount of drug in your body is kept at a constant level. Take this drug at evenly spaced intervals. To help you remember, take it at the same times each day.

Continue to take ribavirin and your other antiviral medication(s) for the full length of time prescribed, even if your symptoms disappear after a short time. Stopping any of the drugs too early may result in a return of the infection.

Drink plenty of water while being treated with this medication. Doing so will decrease the risk of serious side effects.

Ribavirin Side Effects

Nausea, diarrhea, stomach upset, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, trouble sleeping, cough, low appetite, weight loss or gain, dry skin, or changes in taste/hearing may occur. If any of these effects last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

 Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: unusual tiredness/weakness, fast/pounding/irregular heartbeat, muscle/joint pain, vision changes, easy bruising/bleeding, dark urine, yellowing of eyes/skin.

Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: chest pain, jaw/left arm pain, stomach/lower back pain, black/bloody stools.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

Ribavirin Precautions

Before taking ribavirin, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: blood disorders (e.g., sickle cell anemia, low hemoglobin, thalassemia), kidney disease, other liver problems (e.g., autoimmune hepatitis), heart disease, high blood pressure, breathing problems, pancreas problems (e.g., pancreatitis), diabetes.

This drug may make you dizzy or blur your vision. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness or clear vision until you can do it safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).

Kidney function declines as you grow older. This medication is removed by the kidneys. Therefore, elderly people may be at greater risk for anemia while using this drug.

Ribavirin must not be used during pregnancy. It is recommended that female patients or female partners of male patients take a pregnancy test before starting this medication. A pregnancy test should also be taken every month while using this medication and for 6 months after this medication is stopped. If you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor right away. See also Warning section.

It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk. Because of the potential risk to the infant, breast-feeding while using this medication is not recommended.

Ribavirin Interactions

Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.

Some products that may interact with this drug include: antacids, didanosine, zidovudine.

Note:  We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice.

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