AIDS is caused by HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, which attacks the body's defense system. People infected with HIV need to undergo lifelong treatment to strengthen the immune system so that they are not easily infected with other diseases. However, this treatment called antiretroviral usually causes a number of side effects. If you or your loved one has HIV, know the risks of the following side effects of antiretroviral drugs so you can anticipate and find solutions to overcome them.
Antiretroviral side effects for HIV treatment
Some common side effects and methods include:
1. Loss of appetite
Caused by Abacavir (Ziagen).
How to fix it: You can eat several small portions a day instead of 3 large servings. It is recommended to take nutritional supplements or smoothies to ensure you get enough vitamins and minerals, such as consuming appetite stimulants, drinking fruit juice instead of water.
2. Changes in body fat distribution (Lipodystrophy)
Caused by a series of treatments from NRTIs and protease inhibitor classes.
The fix: It is important to exercise to reduce weight in areas where fat is added, such as in the stomach. In addition, you also have to get an injection of polylactic acid (New Fill, Sculptra) on your face if you lose fat in the area. Ask your doctor about the drug Tesamorelin (Egrifta), which reduces excess abdominal fat in people who take HIV drugs.
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Caused by protease inhibitors and other drugs.
How to overcome it: You should reduce your intake of oily, fatty, spicy foods and dairy products and insoluble fats (such as raw vegetables, whole-grain cereals, beans). In addition, use over-the-counter anti-diarrhea drugs such as loperamide (Imodium) or diphenoxylate and atropine (Lomotil).
Caused by various drugs.
How to overcome it: It is important to eat healthy foods to provide more energy and avoid alcohol and cigarettes. In addition, you must exercise frequently.
5. Cholesterol and triglycerides (lipids) are high in blood
Caused by: protease inhibitors and other drugs.
How to overcome it: You have to stop smoking and exercise more. In addition, it is important to reduce fat intake in your diet (talk to a dietitian about the safest way) by eating fish and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It is recommended to do a blood check to see cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Use statins or other lipid-lowering drugs if needed.
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6. Mood changes, depression, anxiety
Caused by Efavirenz (Sustiva).
How to fix it: You have to change the time of drug dosage. And, avoid alcohol and illegal drugs and do antidepressant therapy or drugs.
7. Nausea and vomiting
Almost all drugs cause these side effects.
How to overcome it: You can consume smaller portions several times a day than 3 large portions, and consume bland foods such as white rice and crackers. Also, avoid fatty and spicy foods. Serve food cold and not hot. It is important to use anti-emetic drugs to control nausea.
Caused by: Nevirapine and other drugs.
The fix: It is important to moisturize the skin by using lotion every day and avoid taking a hot shower. Also, use non-irritating soaps and detergents. Wear a cloth that can breathe, like cotton. Ask your doctor if you can use antihistamine drugs.
9. Sleep disturbance
Caused by: Elfavirenz (Sustiva) and other drugs.
How to fix it: You have to exercise regularly. Also, follow a sleep schedule and avoid napping. It is recommended to make sure the bedroom is comfortable for sleeping. Relax before going to bed with a warm bath or other soothing activity, and avoid caffeine and other stimulants a few hours before going to bed. In addition, discuss with your doctor about sleeping pills if the disorder continues.
Other side effects of antiretroviralm drugs include:
- Abacavir hypersensitivity reactions (fever, nausea, vomiting and other side effects)
- Bone fragility
- Heart disease
- High blood sugar and diabetes
- Lactic acid levels are high in the blood (lactic acidosis)
- Kidney, liver or pancreatic damage
- Numbness, burning or pain in the hands or feet due to nerve disorders
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