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Why is this medication prescribed?

Efavirenz is prescribed as part of a combination therapy for the treatment of HIV infection. It belongs to a class of medications called non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs). Efavirenz works by inhibiting the activity of the enzyme reverse transcriptase, which is essential for the replication of the HIV virus.

How should this medicine be used?

Here’s how Efavirenz is typically used:

  • Dosage: The dosage of Efavirenz can vary depending on factors such as the patient’s age, weight, overall health, and other medications they may be taking. It is usually taken once daily.
  • Combination Therapy: Efavirenz is not used alone; it is always prescribed as part of a combination regimen with other antiretroviral medications. This combination therapy is essential for effectively suppressing the HIV virus and preventing the development of drug resistance.
  • Administration: Efavirenz is typically taken orally in the form of tablets or capsules. It can be taken with or without food, although taking it on an empty stomach may reduce the risk of certain side effects, such as dizziness or vivid dreams.
  • Adherence: It’s crucial to take Efavirenz exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Missing doses or not following the prescribed regimen can lead to treatment failure and the development of drug resistance.
  • Monitoring: While taking Efavirenz, regular monitoring of HIV viral load and CD4 cell count is necessary to assess the effectiveness of the treatment and to detect any signs of treatment failure.
  • Side Effects: Efavirenz can cause various side effects, including dizziness, drowsiness, difficulty sleeping, vivid dreams, rash, and changes in mood or behavior. It’s essential to report any side effects to your healthcare provider.
  • Precautions: Before starting Efavirenz, your healthcare provider will assess your medical history and may perform certain tests to ensure it is safe for you. Efavirenz may interact with other medications, so it’s crucial to inform your doctor about all the medications, supplements, and herbal products you are taking.
  • Duration of Treatment: Efavirenz is typically used for long-term management of HIV infection. It’s essential to continue taking it as prescribed, even if you feel well, to keep the virus under control.

Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance regarding the use of Efavirenz or any other medication.

Other uses for this medicine

As for other uses of Efavirenz, it is primarily indicated for HIV treatment and prevention. However, there have been studies exploring its potential use in other conditions such as hepatitis B and tuberculosis, though more research is needed to establish its efficacy in these areas.

What special precautions should I follow?

As for special precautions to follow when using Efavirenz, here are some important considerations:

  • Pregnancy: Efavirenz may cause harm to an unborn baby if used during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. Pregnant individuals should discuss the risks and benefits of Efavirenz with their healthcare provider, and alternative medications may be considered.
  • Contraception: Women of childbearing age should use effective contraception while taking Efavirenz to prevent pregnancy. This is particularly important due to the potential risks to the developing fetus.
  • Liver Function: Efavirenz can cause liver toxicity in some individuals. Liver function tests should be monitored regularly during treatment. Patients with pre-existing liver disease may require closer monitoring or dose adjustments.
  • Mental Health: Efavirenz may cause neuropsychiatric side effects, including mood changes, depression, anxiety, and hallucinations. Patients should be monitored for mental health symptoms, and healthcare providers should be notified of any concerning changes.
  • Drug Interactions: Efavirenz can interact with a variety of medications, including certain anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antifungal drugs, and others. It’s important to inform your healthcare provider about all medications, supplements, and herbal products you are taking to avoid potentially harmful interactions.
  • Alcohol and Recreational Drugs: Alcohol and certain recreational drugs may interact with Efavirenz and increase the risk of side effects or liver toxicity. It’s advisable to limit alcohol intake and avoid recreational drugs while taking Efavirenz.
  • Driving and Operating Machinery: Efavirenz may cause dizziness, drowsiness, or difficulty concentrating, which can impair your ability to drive or operate machinery. Use caution until you know how Efavirenz affects you.

Always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and guidance when taking Efavirenz or any other medication, and don’t hesitate to ask questions or seek clarification about any concerns you may have.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Special dietary instructions for Efavirenz are generally not required. However, taking Efavirenz with food may help reduce some of its potential side effects, such as dizziness or vivid dreams. It’s typically recommended to take Efavirenz on an empty stomach, preferably at bedtime, to minimize these side effects.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you forget to take a dose of Efavirenz, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed one. If you have any concerns or questions about missed doses, consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist for guidance.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Efavirenz, like any medication, can cause side effects. Not everyone will experience these side effects, and their severity can vary from person to person. Some common side effects of Efavirenz include:

  • Central Nervous System Effects: These may include dizziness, drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, confusion, abnormal dreams, insomnia, and impaired coordination. Vivid dreams, nightmares, and hallucinations can also occur, particularly during the first few weeks of treatment.
  • Mood Changes: Efavirenz can sometimes cause mood changes, such as depression, anxiety, agitation, irritability, and suicidal thoughts. It’s essential to monitor for any changes in mood or behavior and seek medical attention if these symptoms occur.
  • Rash: Skin rash is a possible side effect of Efavirenz. It may present as a mild rash or more severe reactions like Stevens-Johnson syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis, which require immediate medical attention.
  • Gastrointestinal Symptoms: Efavirenz can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. These symptoms are usually mild to moderate and tend to improve over time.
  • Headache: Headaches are a common side effect of Efavirenz, especially during the initial stages of treatment.
  • Fatigue: Some individuals may experience fatigue or weakness while taking Efavirenz.
  • Liver Toxicity: Efavirenz can rarely cause liver toxicity, which may manifest as elevated liver enzymes or more severe liver damage. Regular monitoring of liver function tests is typically recommended during treatment.
  • Metabolic Effects: Efavirenz may lead to changes in blood lipid levels, such as elevated cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Hypersensitivity Reactions: Rarely, Efavirenz can cause hypersensitivity reactions, which may include fever, rash, facial swelling, respiratory symptoms, and systemic involvement.
  • Other: Additional side effects may include muscle pain, joint pain, changes in body fat distribution (lipodystrophy), and immune reconstitution syndrome (an inflammatory response to recovering immune system).

It’s essential to report any side effects to your healthcare provider, even if they seem minor. Your healthcare provider can help manage side effects and determine if any adjustments to your treatment regimen are necessary. Additionally, seek immediate medical attention if you experience severe or concerning side effects while taking Efavirenz.

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

When it comes to storage and disposal of Efavirenz, here’s what you should know:


  • Store at Room Temperature: Keep Efavirenz at room temperature between 20 to 25 degrees Celsius (68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Protect from Light and Moisture: Store Efavirenz in its original container, tightly closed, and away from light and moisture. Avoid storing it in the bathroom or near the kitchen sink.
  • Keep Out of Reach of Children: Store Efavirenz in a location where children and pets cannot access it. Consider using a locked cabinet or storage area.
  • Avoid Extreme Temperatures: Do not expose Efavirenz to extreme temperatures, such as freezing or excessive heat.


  • Follow Local Regulations: Dispose of unused or expired Efavirenz according to local regulations. Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them down the drain unless instructed to do so.
  • Drug Take-Back Programs: Check if there are any drug take-back programs or disposal sites in your area where you can safely dispose of unused medications.
  • Seal Properly: Before disposing of Efavirenz, ensure that the container is tightly sealed to prevent accidental ingestion by children, pets, or others.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of emergency or overdose of Efavirenz, take the following steps:

  • Seek Medical Attention: If you or someone else may have overdosed on Efavirenz, call emergency services (such as 911 in the United States) or your local poison control center immediately.
  • Provide Information: Provide as much information as possible about the quantity of medication ingested, the time of ingestion, and any symptoms experienced.
  • Do Not Induce Vomiting: Do not try to induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by medical personnel.
  • Follow Medical Advice: Follow any instructions provided by medical professionals regarding further treatment or monitoring.

What other information should I know?

  • Regular Monitoring: Regular monitoring of HIV viral load and CD4 cell count is necessary during treatment with Efavirenz to assess its effectiveness and monitor for any signs of treatment failure.
  • Adherence to Treatment: It’s essential to take Efavirenz exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Missing doses or not following the prescribed regimen can lead to treatment failure and the development of drug resistance.
  • Drug Interactions: Efavirenz can interact with other medications, so it’s crucial to inform your healthcare provider about all the medications, supplements, and herbal products you are taking.
  • Follow-up Visits: Attend scheduled follow-up visits with your healthcare provider to monitor your progress, discuss any concerns or side effects, and adjust your treatment regimen if necessary.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, discuss the risks and benefits of Efavirenz with your healthcare provider. Alternative medications may be considered, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Always consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about Efavirenz or its use.

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