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Drug Dosing Toolkit
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Tips for Common Side Effects

Here is a list of symptoms, or side effects, that some people experience when they start taking HIV medications, along with some suggestions for what you can do at home to manage them. Because what seems like a side effect may actually be a sign of a more serious condition, such as a drug toxicity or an infection, be sure to discuss your symptoms with your medical provider.

If you are having a serious or persistent side effect, you should seek medical attention promptly.
Side EffectWhat to Do
Headache
transparent gifgrey bulletMaintain adequate fluid intake
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transparent gifgrey bullet Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) as directed by your provider
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transparent gifgrey bullet Keep lights dim, wear sunglasses, or stay in darkened rooms
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transparent gifgrey bullet Try to get plenty of rest
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Fatigue
transparent gifgrey bulletTry low-impact exercise such as walking or low-impact aerobics as directed by your provider
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transparent gifgrey bulletDrink 8-12 glasses of water per day (may have a caffeinated beverage in the morning)
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transparent gifgrey bullet Take a short nap during the day
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transparent gifgrey bullet Lessen your work schedule if possible
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transparent gifgrey bullet Eat well-balanced meals every day
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Insomnia
transparent gifgrey bulletGo to sleep and wake up at the same time every day
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transparent gifgrey bullet Do not read or watch television in bed
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transparent gifgrey bullet Limit daytime naps
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transparent gifgrey bullet Limit fluid intake for 2 hours before bedtime to avoid having to get up to go to the bathroom
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transparent gifgrey bullet Avoid caffeinated products, especially in the afternoon and at night
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transparent gifgrey bullet Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime
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transparent gifgrey bullet Take warm baths, read or listen to music, get a massage
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transparent gifgrey bullet Try a glass of warm milk (contains tryptophan, a natural sleep agent)
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transparent gifgrey bullet Your medical provider may recommend other treatments
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Poor appetite
transparent gifgrey bulletEat smaller, more frequent (4-6) meals throughout the day
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transparent gifgrey bulletDrink protein drinks (such as Carnation Instant Breakfast, Ensure, or Boost)
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Nausea and vomiting
transparent gifgrey bulletEat small meals
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transparent gifgrey bullet Avoid foods or smells that trigger nausea; try eating cold foods and avoiding cooking smells
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transparent gifgrey bullet Eat healthy foods; avoid greasy, spicy, acidic, or sweet foods
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transparent gifgrey bullet Try eating ginger: in ginger tea, ginger ale, or gingersnaps
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transparent gifgrey bullet Eat some crackers or dry white toast if you feel sick in the morning
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transparent gifgrey bullet Over-the-counter antacids or other medications may be recommended by your provider
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Diarrhea
transparent gifgrey bulletEat more soluble fiber such as Bananas, white Rice, Applesauce and white Toast (the "BRAT" diet)
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transparent gifgrey bulletAvoid foods that are spicy or acidic (such as citrus)
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transparent gifgrey bulletAvoid dairy products until diarrhea resolves
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transparent gifgrey bulletMaintain adequate fluid intake (at least 6-8 8 oz glasses per day)
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transparent gifgrey bulletYour provider may recommend treatments such as calcium, loperamide (Imodium) or methylcellulose (Citrucel) or psyllium (Metamucil)
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Dry skin/ rashes
transparent gifgrey bulletDrink 8-12 glasses of water per day
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transparent gifgrey bulletAvoid long, hot showers or baths
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transparent gifgrey bulletAvoid soaps and skin products that contain alcohols or harsh chemicals
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transparent gifgrey bulletUse moisturizing lotion after showers (such as Aquaphor, Absorbase, Lac-Hydrin)
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transparent gifgrey bulletUse mild unscented laundry detergents and avoid fabric softeners
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transparent gifgrey bulletUse sunscreen
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transparent gifgrey bulletTry rubbing or pressing on the itchy areas rather than scratching
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transparent gifgrey bulletUse petroleum jelly on dry, itchy areas; your provider may recommend other agents to help
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Injection site reactions
transparent gifgrey bulletBefore injecting, warm your medicine by gently rolling the syringe in your hands for a minute
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transparent gifgrey bullet Rotate your injection sites
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transparent gifgrey bullet Do not inject into an area that is irritated, bruised, or red
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transparent gifgrey bullet Apply a cold pack after injection
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transparent gifgrey bullet Review your injection technique with your provider; consider using smaller-gauge needles
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transparent gifgrey bullet Your provider may recommend medications to help
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Contents
transparent gifScroll over drug name to see other names for the drug.
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