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Zidovudine Injection

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

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved this prescription. This product contains an active ingredient of Zidovudine. It is odorless and white to beige crystalline. This is a sterile solution for IV infusion only. Each mL has 10 mg of Zidovudine in water for injection. Zidovudine Injection contains no preservatives.  

HIV infection is a condition that damages the immune system. The immune system helps the body fight off infections. Untreated HIV infects and kills CD4 cells. These are a type of immune cell called T cells. The body is more likely to get various types of infections as HIV kills more CD4 cells. HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids that may include:

  • Semen
  • Blood
  • Breast milk
  • Vaginal and rectal fluids

The early signs and symptoms of HIV infection may appear as similar to those caused by the flu. These can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Tiredness
  • Rash
  • Thrush
  • Sore throat
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Ulcers on the genitals
  • Diarrhea
  • Night sweats

An early HIV symptom generally arises within one to two months after transmission, it can as well arrive as soon as 2 weeks after exposure. Besides, some people may experience no early symptoms after they have contracted the infection. 

How does Zidovudine Injection 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.

This medication may also work for the treatment of AIDS which is caused by infection with HIV. This infection attacks cells of the immune system specifically the white blood cells. These cells usually function to trigger other cells in the immune system to fight infection. Since HIV kills white blood cells, over time the body becomes less able to fight the virus. Once the virus is inside, it multiplies. Part of the process of viral multiplication involves the conversion of the virus called reverse transcriptase. Reverse transcriptase is a compound known as an enzyme. 

How to use Zidovudine Injection?

Zidovudine is given by injection intravenously. This is usually given over an hour every 4 hours. But, infants 6 weeks of age and younger may receive it over 30 minutes every 6 hours. You must be taking your prescriptions exactly as it is given. Changing or skipping your dose without the consent of your doctor may cause the amount of virus to increase. It may also make the infection more difficult to treat or worsen some side effects. 

Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than the prescription. 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. 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.

Possible side effects of Zidovudine:

  • 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)

Things to remember when you are taking Zidovudine:

  • If you ever had an allergic reaction to this drug, inform your doctor. This may cause an allergic reaction with the inactive ingredient that it contains.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Caution is advised if you have diabetes. Liquid products may contain sugar. 
  • Use this carefully in people with kidney problems. This drug may be more sensitive to use in older adults.