Lamivudine (Epivir) is used along with other medications to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in adults and children 3 months of age and older. Lamivudine (Epivir-HBV) is used to treat hepatitis B infection. Lamivudine is in a class of medications called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). It works by decreasing the amount of HIV and hepatitis B in the blood. Although lamivudine does not cure HIV, it may decrease your chance of developing acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and HIV-related illnesses such as serious infections or cancer. Taking these medications along with practicing safer sex and making other lifestyle changes may decrease the risk of transmitting (spreading) the HIV or hepatitis B virus to other people.
Side Effects Of Lamivudine
Lamivudine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- difficulty falling sleeping or staying asleep
- stuffy nose
If you experience any of the following symptoms or those listed in the WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
- vomiting (in children)
- nausea (in children)
- ongoing pain that begins in the stomach area but may spread to the back (in children)
- numbness, tingling or burning in the fingers or toes
- excessive tiredness; weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness; fast or irregular heartbeat; muscle pain; stomach pain with nausea and vomiting; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, or cough; or feeling cold, especially in the arms or legs
- light-colored bowel movements; yellowing of the skin or eyes; loss of appetite; unusual bleeding or bruising; dark yellow or brown urine; or pain in the upper right part of the stomach
Lamivudine may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
Warnings & Precautions
Before taking lamivudine:
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to lamivudine, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in lamivudine tablets or oral solution. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention the following: interferon alfa (Intron A), ribavirin (Copegus, Rebetol, others), sorbitol; and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra).
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had hepatitis C virus infection or other liver diseases, kidney disease, or pancreas disease (in children only).
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking lamivudine, call your doctor. You should not breastfeed if you are infected with HIV or if you are taking lamivudine.
- you should know that while you are taking medications to treat HIV infection, your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight other infections that were already in your body. This may cause you to develop symptoms of those infections. If you have new or worsening symptoms after starting treatment with lamivudine, be sure to tell your doctor.
- if you have diabetes, you should know that there are 3 grams of sucrose in each tablespoon (15 mL) of lamivudine solution.
Lamivudine comes as a tablet and oral solution (liquid) to take by mouth. Lamivudine (Epivir) is usually taken once or twice a day with or without food. Lamivudine (Epivir-HBV) is usually taken once a day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take lamivudine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Lamivudine controls HIV and hepatitis B infection and but does not cure them. Continue to take lamivudine even if you feel well. Do not stop taking lamivudine without talking to your doctor. When your supply of lamivudine starts to run low, get more from your doctor or pharmacist. If you miss doses or stop taking lamivudine, your condition may become more difficult to treat.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
Keep a supply of lamivudine on hand. Do not wait until you run out of medication to refill your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.