Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Anemia: Hydroxyurea may cause low levels of red blood cells. If you experience symptoms of reduced red blood cell count (anemia) such as shortness of breath, feeling unusually tired, or pale skin, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to monitor the number of specific types of blood cells, including red blood cells, in your blood.
Birth Control: There is the possibility of birth defects if either the father or mother is using hydroxyurea at the time of conception. Men should use effective birth control while taking hydroxyurea and for at least 1 year after completing treatment.
Blood clotting: This medication can reduce the number of platelet cells in the blood. Platelets help the blood to clot, and a shortage could make you bleed more easily. If you notice any signs of bleeding, such as frequent nosebleeds, unexplained bruising, cuts that won't stop bleeding, or black and tarry stools, notify your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will order routine blood tests to make sure potential problems are caught early.
Drowsiness/reduced alertness: Hydroxyurea may cause drowsiness. Avoid operating machinery or motor vehicles or doing other potentially hazardous tasks until you determine how hydroxyurea affects you.
Fertility: Men who take hydroxyurea may experience a decrease in the number of healthy sperm produced. Sometimes this is reversible when the medication is stopped. If you are considering starting a family after treatment with hydroxyurea, talk to your doctor.
Gout: Hydroxyurea may increase the level of uric acid in the body. If you develop painful, warm and swollen joints or difficulty with urination, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
If you have a history of gout, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Infection: As well as killing cancer cells, hydroxyurea can reduce the number of cells that fight infection in the body (white blood cells). If possible, avoid contact with people with contagious infections. Tell your doctor immediately if you begin to notice signs of an infection, such as fever or chills, severe diarrhea, shortness of breath, prolonged dizziness, headache, stiff neck, weight loss, or listlessness. Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to monitor the number of specific types of blood cells in your blood.
Kidney function: Kidney disease or reduced kidney function may cause this medication to build up in the body, causing side effects. If you have reduced kidney function or kidney disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Liver function: Hydroxyurea may reduce liver function and can cause liver failure. If you have liver problems, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. Your doctor may want to test your liver function regularly with blood tests while you are taking this medication.
Tumour Lysis Syndrome: Hydroxyurea, like many other cancer medications, causes many cancer cells to be suddenly killed when treatment is first started. This can overwhelm the body with waste products from the cells. As a result, the body may not be able to keep up with getting rid of all the waste. When this happens, you may experience nausea, shortness of breath, notice cloudy urine, or joint pain. This is called tumour lysis syndrome. Your doctor may prescribe some medications to help your body get rid of the waste products. Make sure you understand how to use these medications and report any of these signs or symptoms to your doctor immediately.
Vaccinations: The effect of vaccines given to people with reduced immune system activity is unpredictable. Hydroxyurea may cause vaccines to be less effective than expected. Talk to your doctor if you need any vaccinations while taking this medication.
Pregnancy: This medication may harm the baby if taken during pregnancy and should not be used during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking hydroxyurea, it may affect your baby. Because of the risks associated with this medication, women taking this medication should not breast-feed.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.
Seniors: Seniors may be more at risk of developing side effects from this medication.