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What is Ribavirin?
Ribavirin is an antiviral medicine that is prescribed primarily in combination with an interferon alfa product to treat chronic Hepatitis C. It is sold under various trade names, a couple of which are Copegus and Ribavin (made by Lupin).
Important Information about Ribavirin
Ribavirin antiviral drug (Copegus, Ribavin) will not be effective in treating Hepatitis C as a standalone medication. It must be taken in combination with an interferon alfa product. You should not take Ribavirin if you are allergic to it, or if you are also taking didanosine, if you have liver disease, if you are pregnant woman, or a man whose female sexual partner is pregnant. This medicine can cause birth defects or death of an unborn baby. Ribavirin can also harm an unborn baby if it is conceived while father is taking it. Use of an effective form of birth control is recommended while either of the partner is taking this medicine. Also, if you are a breast feeding woman, ask your doctor first if it is safe for you to take Ribavirin.
Ribavirin may decrease red blood cell count in your body causing a condition called anemia which can be life threatening, especially in people with heart disease or circulation problems.
Before taking Ribavirin
Before taking Ribavirin antiviral medicine (Copegus, Ribavin), keep in mind, all the points mentioned above and take necessary precautions. Let your doctor know in advance if you have any of the following conditions: kidney or liver disease, hepatitis B infections, a blood cell disorder such as hemolytic anemia, HIV, diabetes, a pancreas disorder, sarcoidosis, breathing troubles, or a thyroid disorder, new or worsening eye problesm, a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, or a heart attack, a history of liver, kidney or other organ transplant, or if you have ever taken medicines for hepatitis C that did not prove to be effective. This is to make sure that you can take Ribavirin safely.
How should I take Ribavirin?
Take Ribavirin (Copegus, Ribavin) strictly according to your doctor’s direction or according to the instructions on the medication label. Do not alter the dosage unless your doctor advises you to do so. Also, do not take this medication after the prescribed period is over. All medications come with a patient leaflet. Refer the instructions in them for detailed information on that particular medication.
Take Ribavrine with food. Ensure that you drink plenty of fluids while taking this medicine. Call your doctor immediately if you have pale or yellowed skin, dark colored urine, fever, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, or weakness. These may signal serious anemia.
Ribavirin can cause dry mouth that can lead to tooth decay or gum disease. If you vomit, rinse your mouth thoroughly. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dry mouth. Store this medicine in a cool and dry place.
What if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose of Ribavirin, take it as soon as you remember. Don’t take the missed dose if the time to take the next dose is almost up. Taking multiple doses near to each other can lead to excess medication in your body which can be harmful. If you miss taking this medicine for 7 days, consult your doctor before starting it again. You may require a lower dosage to start with.
What if I overdose?
In case of an overdose of Ribavirin, get emergency medical attention or call the Doctor immediately. Overdose may cause easy bruising or bleeding, less or no urination, chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, or a general ill feeling.
Things and Activities to avoid while taking Ribavirin
Ribavirin will not prevent spreading of the Hepatitis C virus. Follow your doctor’s directions about preventing the spread of this virus. Also avoid drinking alcohol as it may increase the chances of liver damage.
Ribavirin Side Effects
Some common side effects of Ribavirin are nausea, diarrhea, stomach upset, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, trouble sleeping, flu like symptoms (fever, chills, sore throat, muscle aches), cough, hair loss, low appetite, weight loss or gain, dry skin, or changes in taste or hearing. If any of these conditions persist or worsen, get medical attention right away.
Ribavirin can cause dry mouth which can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dry mouth. This medicine may also cause serious side effects rarely. Seek medical attention right away if you get any serious side effects.
The side effects mentioned above are not the only ones that you may experience or witness due to Ribavirin. If you get any serious side effects due to this medication, contact your doctor right away.
Ribavirin Dosing Information
Ribavirin dosage may depend on a range of factors like age, sex, drug allergies, or seriousness of the condition among several other factors. Your dosage will be determined by your doctor after examining you properly. Remember to follow your doctor’s advice properly for best results.
Interaction with other drugs
Other drugs that can interact with Ribavirin. Let your doctor know in advance if you are using any of these interacting medicines: abacavir, azathiopriine, lamivudine, stavudine, tenofovir, zalcitabine, or zalcitabine. However, these are not the only medicines that can interact with Ribavirin. There may be others as well. Inform your doctor about all other medicines and related products which you may be using. Never start a new medication without consulting your doctor first.