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Retrovir Side Effects and Retrovir Monograph





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Retrovir
Generic Name: Zidovudine or AZT Pronounced: zye-DAH-vu-deen
Drug Class: Antiretroviral, Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor

IMPORTANT NOTE: THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS ONLY INTENDED TO SUPPLEMENT, NOT SUBSTITUTE FOR, THE EXPERTISE AND JUDGMENT OF YOUR PHYSICIAN, PHARMACIST OR OTHER HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL FAMILIAR WITH YOUR CONDITION. THIS INFORMATION SHOULD NOT BE CONStrUED TO STATE OR IMPLY THAT USE OF THE DRUG IS SAFE, APPROPRIATE, OR EFFECTIVE FOR YOUR CONDITION. ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL BEFORE USING THIS OR ANY OTHER DRUG.

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Retrovir/Zidovudine or AZT Uses

This medication is an antiretroviral (anti-HIV) drug that is part of the nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTIs, also called Nukes) family. It is used together with other antiretrovirals to delay the progression of HIV infection. By doing this, your immune system should improve (increase in CD4+ count) and you will be better protected against infections.

How Retrovir/Zidovudine Works

This medication does not cure AIDS or completely kill the HIV virus, but helps to prevent more damage to your body by slowing down the production of new HIV viruses. Treatment with this medication does not reduce the risk of transmitting infection on to others. You will still be able to transmit HIV by sexual contact, by blood transfer or by sharing needles, just as before. You should always use appropriate precautions to prevent passing HIV on to others.

How To Take Retrovir/Zidovudine or AZT

Generally, the starting dose of this medication is 600 mg per day. This dose may need to be adjusted (decreased) if you have kidney problems. It can be taken with or without food. Take Zidovudine regularly and continuously at the same time every day. Don't skip doses. Zidovudine is taken by mouth.

Possible Retrovir Side Effects (Zidovudine or AZT)

Adverse effects sometimes seen in the first weeks of therapy are nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, headaches, and a general feeling of being unwell (malaise). Ask your doctor or pharmacist to suggest ways to manage these symptoms. Serious effects of this medication occur in less than 10% of people and include anemia (reduced numbers of red blood cells making you feel tired or short of breath), or leucopenia (decreased number of white blood cells raising your risk of bacterial infection).

These adverse side effects usually occur after you have been on the drug for a long period of time. Blood tests done regularly check for changes in these values. Also, muscle pain may occur after you have been on Zidovudine for many months. Inform your doctor if you notice side effect symptoms such as fever, chills, shortness of breath, racing heart beat, fatigue, or muscle pain.

Your blood must also routinely be checked for any changes in liver and pancreas function.

Retrovir/Zidovudine or AZT Warnings and Precautions

You must make sure that you are taking the prescribed dose. If you take a higher dose of this medication than the prescribed dose, you may increase your chance of having adverse effects. If you take lower doses of Zidovudine than the prescribed dose, the HIV virus develop resistance to this medication.

Retrovir/Zidovudine Drug Interactions

Many drugs increase or decrease the effect of this medication. Also, this medication can alter or otherwise influence the effect of some other drugs you may be taking. Inform your doctor and pharmacist of all prescription and non-prescription drugs you are taking. Also, inform them of any natural products you are taking. When you start a new drug or natural product, please talk to your pharmacist before doing so.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose, take your next dose as soon as you remember. If it is time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular schedule. Do not take double doses.

If you miss doses of this medication, the amount of HIV virus in your blood (the viral load) will start increasing again and your immune system will be further damaged. Several missed doses can be enough for this medication to stop being active against the virus. This phenomenon is called resistance. When resistance occurs, other antiretroviral drugs that act in a similar way to this medication may also become inactive. Therefore, missing doses of this medication can decrease your treatment options even in the future. Even if you do not feel well, you should always take your doses of Zidovudine. Do not stop Zidovudine without first talking to your doctor.

Storage

Keep Retrovir/Zidovudine in the container it came in, tightly closed. Keep out of reach of children. Store at room temperature, away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw out medication that has become outdated or no longer needed or discontinued.

Retrovir/Zidovudine or AZT Pregnancy/Nursing

Inform your doctor if you are or become pregnant. Your doctor has treatments to help to reduce the risk of passing the HIV virus on to your baby. Breastfeeding is not recommended if you have HIV as you can transmit the virus to your baby through breast milk.


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