Hydroxyurea (Hydrea)

Warning : Hydroxyurea may cause severe and even life-threatening adverse effects. The medication should be given by physician experienced in chemotherapy drugs to treat sickle cell anemia. The drug should be used cautiously in obese patients and patients having kidney disease and liver problem (hepatic impairment).

Indications: Hydroxyurea is used to treat sickle cell anemia by reducing the number of painful crises, as well as reduce the need for as many blood transfusions. It can also treat melanoma, chronic myelogenous leukemia, and squamous cell carcinoma.

This drug is also able to treat cancers such as polycythemia vera and thrombocythemia, but is not recommended by the manufacturer. Only use this drug under prescription by your doctor.

Dosage: Hydroxyurea comes as in capsule form. Read all instructions prior to use of this drug. The medication is taken by the mouth once daily with food. Swallow the pill whole. Do not crush, chew or break apart the capsule. The dosage you take will depend upon your response to therapy, weight, and laboratory results. Your doctor will monitor your blood count regularly to avoid a drop. If you do experience low blood count while on this treatment your doctor may stop treatment for a period of time. Keep all of your appointments with the laboratory to avoid any unsafe drops.

Doctors and healthcare professionals should avoid contact with this medication with bare hands. Gloves should be worn and spills should be handled with paper towels. Pregnant women should avoid any contact with Hydroxyurea, as it can be absorbed through the skin and inhaled in the lungs.

Storage: It is important to store Hydroxyurea at room temperature (15-25 ° C), away from heat above 40 ° C, light and moisture. Keep the medication out of the reach of children . Hydroxyurea and all other drugs should not be used beyond the expiration date printed on the container.

Overdose: Hydroxyurea can cause a life-threatening decrease in the number of blood cells in your body. As with any drug, Hydroxyurea overdose may be dangerous, mainly if taken for long term. In fact, an overdose of Hydroxyurea can lead to death in fragile patients. Contact your doctor or the poison control center nearest you if you experience the following symptoms:

  • dizziness and confusion
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • shortness of breath
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Signs of infection: fever, sore throat, chills, cough, etc.

Missing dose: take Hydroxyurea and all medications as prescribed. In case you forget to take a dose, take the missed one as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, do not double the next dose to recover the missing, it can be dangerous. Contact your doctor or wait to go back to your regular schedule. This applies not only to Hydroxyurea but also any other drug.

Contraindications: All of your allergies should be known by your doctor and pharmacist. There is some chance of having an allergic reaction to this medication.

Your body may not be able to fight an infection as well while taking this medication. Avoid contact with people that have known infections as well as wash your hands to avoid one. If you already have any infections, it may be harder for your system to fight it.

If you plan to father a child in the future, the effect of this drug on the sperm count is unknown, so talk to your doctor about all of the possible risks.

Pregnant women should not take this medication as it can cause serious birth defects and harm an unborn baby. Breast feeding is not recommended as it can pass through to the baby and harm them.

Older people may have a higher risk of serious side effects.

Interactions: Certain drugs may cause excessive side effects as well as make this medication less effective. Didanosine, stavudine and interferon are all known drugs that can cause interactions with this treatment.

Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any of these medications:

  • sulfinpyrazone (Anturane)
  • Probenecid (Benuryl)
  • live vaccines: BCG, yellow fever vaccine, etc..
  • Ganciclovir, an antiviral drug
  • Azathioprine, an immune system inhibitor
  • Barbiturates, depressant drugs that causes relaxation and sleepiness
  • Cimetidine , a drug used to inhibit the production of acid in the stomach
  • Colchicines , a medication used to treat pain of gouty arthritis
  • Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Cytoxan, Neosar, Procytox, Revimmune), a drug used to treat several types of cancers
  • All other chemotherapy medications.

Side effects: Hydroxyurea not only cancer cells but also normal (healthy) cells, which often leads to, in certain patients, the following side effects:

  • hair loss
  • constipation
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • drowsiness
  • mouth sores
  • skin rash
  • insomnia or difficulty sleepiness
  • decreased appetite
  • mild nausea and vomiting
  • tiredness or weakness
  • Unusual purple, blue, or black discoloration on the nails

If the side effects above persist for weeks, contact your oncologist. In addition, contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • anxiety
  • severe depression symptoms
  • nose bleeding
  • fast or irregular heart beat
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • intense headache
  • moderate to severe nausea or vomiting
  • wheezing
  • feeling of constriction of the throat
  • Swelling of feet or lower legs
  • sudden low or high blood pressure

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