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Zidovudine

Zidovudine Uses

This drug is used with other HIV medications to help control HIV infection. It helps to decrease the amount of HIV in your body so your immune system can work better. This lowers your chance of getting HIV complications (such as new infections, cancer) and improves your quality of life. Zidovudine belongs to a class of drugs known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors-NRTIs.

Zidovudine is used in pregnant women to prevent passing the HIV virus to the unborn baby. This medication is also used in newborns born to mothers infected with HIV to prevent infection in the newborns.

Zidovudine is not a cure for HIV infection. To decrease your risk of spreading HIV disease to others, do all of the following: (1) continue to take all HIV medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor, (2) always use an effective barrier method (latex or polyurethane condoms/dental dams) during all sexual activity, and (3) do not share personal items (such as needles/syringes, toothbrushes, and razors) that may have contacted blood or other body fluids. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

How to use Zidovudine

Take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually 2 to 3 times daily. Take this medication with a full glass of water (8 ounces/240 milliliters) unless your doctor directs you otherwise. If you are using the liquid form of this medication, carefully measure the dose using a special measuring device/spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose.

The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. For children, the dosage is also based on weight. Pregnant women may need to take this medication 5 times a day. Newborns are usually given the liquid form every 6 hours for 6 weeks after birth to prevent infection.

Take this medication 2 hours before or after taking clarithromycin. Clarithromycin may prevent your body from fully absorbing zidovudine.

For the best effect, take this medication at evenly spaced times. To help you remember, take this medication at the same times every day.

It is very important to continue taking this medication (and other HIV medications) exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not skip any doses. Refill your medication before you run out.

Do not take more or less of this drug than prescribed or stop taking it (or other HIV medicines) even for a short time unless directed to do so by your doctor. Skipping or changing your dose without approval from your doctor may cause the amount of virus to increase, make the infection more difficult to treat (resistant), or worsen side effects.

Zidovudine Side Effects

See also Warning section.

 Headache, nausea, vomiting, trouble sleeping, or loss of appetite may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify 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.

As your immune system gets stronger, it can begin to fight off infections you already had, possibly causing disease symptoms to come back. You could also have symptoms if your immune system becomes overactive. This reaction may happen at any time (soon after starting HIV treatment or many months later). Get medical help right away if you have any serious symptoms, including: unexplained weight loss, severe tiredness, muscle aches/weakness that doesn't go away, headaches that are severe or don't go away, joint pain, numbness/tingling of the hands/feet/arms/legs, vision changes, signs of infection (such as fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, trouble breathing, cough, non-healing skin sores), signs of an overactive thyroid (such as irritability, nervousness, heat intolerance, fast/pounding/irregular heartbeat, bulging eyes, unusual growth in the neck/thyroid known as a goiter), signs of a certain nerve problem known as Guillain-Barre syndrome (such as trouble breathing/swallowing/moving your eyes, drooping face, paralysis, trouble speaking).

Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: mental/mood changes (such as depression, anxiety, confusion), easy bruising/bleeding, skin/fingernail color changes.

Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: seizures.

Loss of body fat (such as in the face, arms, legs, and buttocks) may occur while you are taking this medication. This effect may be permanent. Tell your doctor right away if you notice any changes in body fat.

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.

Zidovudine Precautions

Before taking zidovudine, 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: kidney problems, liver problems (such as hepatitis B or C, cirrhosis), alcohol use, low red/white blood cells.

Liquid products may contain sugar. Caution is advised if you have diabetes or any other condition that requires you to limit sugar in your diet. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about using this product safely.

Before having surgery, tell your doctors or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant before using this medication. Treatment can lower the risk of passing HIV infection to your baby. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.

This medication passes into breast milk. Because breast milk can transmit HIV, do not breast-feed.

Zidovudine 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: orlistat, probenecid, ribavirin, stavudine, drugs that may suppress bone marrow function (such as ganciclovir, dapsone, trimethoprim, chemotherapy including doxorubicin, vincristine), drugs that may affect the kidneys (including NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen).

Other medications can affect the removal of zidovudine from your body, thereby affecting how zidovudine works. These drugs include methadone, rifampin, and some drugs used to treat seizures (such as phenytoin, valproic acid). This is not a complete list.

This medication must not be taken with other medications that contain zidovudine. Check the labels on all your other prescription medications to make sure they do not contain zidovudine. If you have any questions, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

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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