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: This medication may change how fat is distributed on your body. With long-term use, fat may accumulate on the stomach, back, and breasts and be reduced on the arm, legs, and face. Notify your doctor if you start developing any changes in your body's appearance.
Immune system: When you start taking HIV medications such as stavudine, your immune system may get stronger and start to fight other infections that have been hidden in your body (e.g., pneumonia, herpes, or tuberculosis). Contact your doctor if you develop any new symptoms after starting HIV medications such as stavudine.
Kidney disease: If you have 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.
Lactic acidosis and enlarged liver: This medication can cause a rare but serious condition called lactic acidosis (buildup of lactic acid), together with an enlarged fatty liver. Your doctor will periodically monitor you and perform laboratory tests to check your liver function. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of this condition, such as:
- feeling cold
- irregular heartbeat
- stomach pain
Liver problems: This medication can cause liver problems. Your doctor may monitor your liver function while you are taking this medication, especially if you have risk factors for liver problems. Tell your doctor immediately about any signs of liver problems, such as:
- dark urine
- loss of appetite
- pale stools
- weight loss
- yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes
Pancreatitis: This medication may cause inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). If you have previously had pancreatitis or are at risk for developing it, if you have gallstones, or if you regularly drink alcohol, you are at increased risk of developing pancreatitis when taking stavudine and should be closely monitored by your doctor while taking this medication. Contact your doctor if you develop signs of pancreatitis, such as:
- back pain
- rapid heartbeat
- swollen abdomen
- upper left abdominal pain
Peripheral neuropathy: Stavudine may cause a rare but serious nerve disorder called peripheral neuropathy. This is more likely to occur in people who have had it previously, people who are taking medications that affect the nerves (e.g., didanosine), and people with advanced HIV disease, but it can occur at any disease stage. Tell your doctor immediately if you experience tingling, burning, numbness, or pain in the hands or feet.
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: It is not known whether stavudine passes into breast milk. Because HIV can be transmitted by breast milk, women who have HIV should not breast-feed.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children less than 3 months old.