Side Effects of Zidovudine

In clinical studies, the most common side effects of zidovudine included vomiting, headaches, and nausea. There are also a number of potentially serious side effects that should be reported to a healthcare provider right away, such as any signs of liver problems, unusual bleeding or bruising, and anemia. In most cases, zidovudine side effects occur when too much of the drug is taken.

Side Effects of Zidovudine: An Introduction

As with any medicine, side effects are possible with zidovudine (Retrovir®); however, not everyone who takes the drug will experience side effects. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are easily treated by you or your healthcare provider. 
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with zidovudine. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list of zidovudine side effects with you.)

Serious Side Effects of Zidovudine

Zidovudine has been studied thoroughly in clinical trials. In these studies, the side effects that occur in a group of people taking the drug are documented and are then compared to side effects that occur in another group of people not taking the medicine. This way, it is possible to see what side effects occur, how often they appear, and how they compare to the group not taking the medicine.
In these studies, the most common zidovudine side effects included:
  • Headaches -- in up to 62.5 percent of people
  • A general ill feeling (malaise) -- up to 53.2 percent
  • Nausea -- up to 51.4 percent
  • Loss of appetite -- up to 20.1 percent
  • Vomiting -- up to 17.2 percent.
Other zidovudine side effects seen in clinical studies included:
  • Abdominal (stomach) cramps or pain
  • Joint pain
  • Chills
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle or bone pain
  • Nerve problems, such as unusual sensations (like burning or tingling).

AZT (Zidovudine) -- Drug Information

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