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.
Fat redistribution: Over time, this medication may change how fat is distributed in your body and may change your body shape. You may notice increased fat in the upper back and neck, breast, around the back, chest, and stomach area; or loss of fat from the legs, arms, and face. The long-term effects of this are not known. Notify your doctor if you start developing any changes in your body's appearance.
Hepatitis B: If you have hepatitis B, your condition may worsen or recur if you stop taking this medication. Do not stop taking this medication unless recommended by your doctor. If your doctor recommends that you stop taking this medication, your doctor will monitor you for several months after stopping treatment.
Immune reconstitution syndrome: This medication may cause a reaction from your immune system, where signs and symptoms of inflammation from previous infections reappear. These symptoms occur soon after starting anti-HIV medication and can vary. They are thought to occur as a result of the immune system improving and being able to fight infections that have been present without symptoms (such as pneumonia, herpes, or tuberculosis). Report any new symptoms to your doctor as soon as possible.
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, 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. People with severely reduced kidney function should not take this medication.
Lactic acidosis and enlarged fatty liver: Lamivudine can cause a rare but serious condition called lactic acidosis (too much acid in the blood) along with a swollen and fatty liver. This tends to occur more often in women, especially if they are overweight. If you experience weight loss, fatigue, a general ill feeling, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, an enlarged liver, or symptoms of liver problems (nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, weakness, diarrhea), contact your doctor immediately.
Liver function: Lamivudine - zidovudine 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.
Report any signs of liver problems (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, dark urine, pale stools) to your doctor immediately.
Medical conditions: Make sure you tell your doctor if you have a history of any of the following conditions:
- liver disease
- low amounts of folic acid or vitamin B12 in the blood
- kidney disease
People with these conditions should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition, how their medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas): This medication may cause or worsen pancreatitis, especially in children. If you have a history of pancreatitis, 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.
If you experience symptoms of pancreatitis such as abdominal pain on the upper left side, back pain, nausea, fever, chills, rapid heartbeat, or swollen abdomen contact your doctor immediately.
Reduced red blood cells: Pure red cell aplasia is a rare bone marrow disorder characterized by a reduction in red blood cells produced by the bone marrow. Symptoms include pallor, weakness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and decreased blood pressure. If you experience any of these symptoms contact your doctor immediately.
Zidovudine may also cause low levels of red blood cells without causing red cell aplasia. 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.
Reduced white blood cells and red blood cells: The zidovudine in this medication can cause low levels of white blood cells. This usually happens when lamivudine - zidovudine is taken for more than 4 to 6 weeks. Your doctor should order regular blood tests to monitor for changes in the numbers of blood cells during treatment. If you experience symptoms of an infection (e.g., fever, sore throat) contact your doctor immediately.
If you normally have low levels white blood cells, your doctor may consider a different combination of medications to treat your condition.
Stopping the medication: If you stop taking this medication, your HIV infection could get worse. Take the medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor, and do not stop taking the medication without checking with your doctor first.
Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: Lamivudine and zidovudine pass into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking lamivudine - zidovudine, it may affect your baby. Women who have HIV infection are cautioned against breast-feeding because of the risk of passing HIV to a baby who does not have the infection.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children less than 12 years of age. Lamivudine - zidovudine is not recommended for this age group.