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Zidovudine is used in pregnant women to prevent passing the HIV infection to the unborn baby. This helps decrease the amount of HIV in your body. It is to let your immune system work better. This also lowers your chance of getting HIV complications and improves your quality of life. This is usually used in combination with other HIV medications. Zidovudine is in the class of drugs called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs).  This prescription is also used to prevent infection in newborn babies.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved this prescription. This is supplied as a capsule for oral use. Each capsule is available in the dosage form of 100 mg.

How does Zidovudine work?

Zidovudine blocks the action of the enzyme which interferes with the conversion of viral RNA into DNA. This stops the virus from growing. This drug is one of several medicines that lower the amount of virus in the body. This helps the immune system to recover and slow down or stop the progression of the disease from HIV to AIDS.

A combined anti-HIV medicine is necessary to fight HIV because the virus can become resistant to one agent very fast. This is known as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) or combined antiretroviral therapy (cART). Zidovudine is used in combination with other anti-HIV drugs that attack HIV in different ways. This minimizes the ability of the virus to replicate and multiply. This helps prevent it from becoming resistant to treatment.

How to use Zidovudine?

The dosage of this prescription is based on your medical condition and response to the treatment. Your doctor may give you a lower dose and slowly increase it. This is to be taken by mouth usually 2 to 3 times a day. Each dose may be taken with or without food or as directed by your doctor. Take this medication with a full glass of water. Swallow the capsule as a whole. Do not open or chew it. Remember to take it at the same time and in the same way each day. Take it regularly for the best benefit of this product. Do not suddenly stop this treatment without the consent of your doctor.

Take each dose exactly as it is given by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than the prescription. Let your doctor know if your condition does not improve or if it gets worse.

What are the side effects of Zidovudine?

Common side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • Joint pain
  • Changes in the shape or location of body fat especially in your legs, arms, face, neck, and trunk)

Tell your doctor right away if you have these serious side effects:

  • Persistent muscle aches or weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Numbness or tingling of the hands, arms, feet, or legs
  • Severe tiredness
  • Joint pain
  • Vision changes
  • Signs of infection (chills, fever, cough, and non-healing skin sores)
  • Severe or persistent headaches
  • Signs of an overactive thyroid (heat intolerance, nervousness, irritability, bulging eyes, fast or irregular heartbeat, and unusual growth in the neck
  • Signs of certain nerve problems (drooping face, slurred speech, or difficulty breathing)

Warnings and Precautions

  • Before using this prescription, tell your doctor if you have any medical history such as liver problems, kidney problems, low red/white blood cells, or alcohol use.
  • Inform your doctor if you ever had an allergic reaction to this drug. This may cause an allergic reaction to the inactive ingredient that it contains.
  • If you are pregnant, tell your doctor before using this drug. Treatment can lower the risk of passing HIV infection to your baby. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
  • Do not breastfeed because breast milk can transmit HIV.
  • Caution is advised when using this drug in older adults because they may be more sensitive to the effects of the medication.
  • This drug should be used with caution in people over 65 years of age, people with an enlarged liver, decreased liver or kidney function, and obese women.
  • Zidovudine should not be used in people with low levels of hemoglobin and low levels of white blood cells.