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Zidovudine can cause severe side effects, such as liver damage, blood toxicities, and muscle disorders. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: unusual breathing, shortness of breath, unusual bleeding or bruising, unusual tiredness or weakness, pale skin, fever, chills, sore throat, fatigue, loss of appetite, upset stomach, vomiting, dark urine, yellowing of the skin, pale stools, muscle weakness, lack of strength, or muscle pain. Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your response to zidovudine.
WHY is this medicine prescribed?
Your doctor has ordered zidovudine, an antiviral agent, to help treat your infection. The drug will be added to an intravenous fluid that will drip through a needle or catheter placed in your vein for at least 60 minutes every 4 hours.
Zidovudine is used alone or with other medications to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in patients with or without acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). It will slow the spread of HIV infection in the body. Zidovudine is not a cure and may not decrease the number of HIV-related illnesses. Zidovudine does not prevent the spread of HIV to other people. This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Your health care provider (doctor, nurse, or pharmacist) may measure the effectiveness and side effects of your treatment using laboratory tests and physical examinations. It is important to keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. The length of treatment depends on how your infection and symptoms respond to the medication.
What SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS should I follow?
Before administering zidovudine,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to zidovudine or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially acetaminophen, acyclovir (Zovirax), aspirin, cancer chemotherapy, cimetidine (Tagamet), fluconazole (Diflucan), foscarnet (Foscavir), ganciclovir (Cytovene), indomethacin (Indocin), interferon, lorazepam (Ativan), oxazepam (Serax), probenecid (Benemid), valproic acid (Depakene, Depakote), and vitamins.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had liver or kidney disease, any disease or swelling of the muscles, anemia, a history of alcohol abuse, or bleeding or other blood problems.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking zidovudine, call your doctor.
- tell your doctor if you drink alcohol.
HOW should this medicine be used?
Before you administer zidovudine, look at the solution closely. It should be clear and free of floating material. Gently squeeze the bag or observe the solution container to make sure there are no leaks. Do not use the solution if it is discolored, if it contains particles, or if the bag or container leaks. Use a new solution, but show the damaged one to your health care provider.
It is important that you use your medication exactly as directed. Do not stop your therapy on your own for any reason because your infection could worsen and result in hospitalization. Do not change your dosing schedule without talking to your health care provider. Your health care provider may tell you to stop your infusion if you have a mechanical problem (such as blockage in the tubing, needle, or catheter); if you have to stop an infusion, call your health care provider immediately so your therapy can continue.
What SIDE EFFECTS can this medicine cause?
Zidovudine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- stomach pain
- diarrhea or loose stools
- sleepiness or difficulty sleeping
If you experience the following symptom, or any of those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at Web Site] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
What should I know about STORAGE and DISPOSAL of this medication?
- Your health care provider may give you a 2-day supply of zidovudine at a time. You will be told to store it in the refrigerator.
- Take your next dose from the refrigerator 1 hour before using it; place it in a clean, dry area to allow it to warm to room temperature.
Store your medication only as directed. Make sure you understand what you need to store your medication properly.
Keep your supplies in a clean, dry place when you are not using them, and keep all medications and supplies out of reach of children. Your health care provider will tell you how to throw away used needles, syringes, tubing, and containers to avoid accidental injury.
What should I do in case of OVERDOSE?
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
If you are receiving zidovidine in your vein or under your skin, you need to know the symptoms of a catheter-related infection (an infection where the needle enters your vein or skin). If you experience any of these effects near your intravenous catheter, tell your health care provider as soon as possible:
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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