Vitamin D2 (Generic Ergocalciferol)
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Why is this medication prescribed?
Ergocalciferol is used in the treatment of hypoparathyroidism (condition in which the body does not produce enough parathyroid hormone), refractory rickets (softening and weakening of bones that does not respond to treatment), and familial hypophosphatemia (rickets or osteomalacia caused by an inherited condition with a decreased ability to break down vitamin D in the body). Ergocalciferol is in a class of medications called vitamin D analogs. It works by helping the body to use more of the calcium found in foods or supplements.
How should this medicine be used?
Ergocalciferol comes as a capsule to take by mouth. It is usually taken once daily. Take ergocalciferol at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take ergocalciferol exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Swallow the capsules whole; do not chew or crush them.
Your doctor may change your dose depending on your body’s response to ergocalciferol.
Other uses for this medicine
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking ergocalciferol,
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to ergocalciferol, aspirin, tartrazine (a yellow dye in some processed foods and drugs), any other medications, or any of the ingredients in ergocalciferol capsules. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: calcium supplements; other vitamin D supplements and fortified foods; or thiazide diuretics (‘water pills’) such as chlorothiazide (Diuril), hydrochlorothiazide (in many blood pressure medications), indapamide, and metolazone (Zaroxolyn). You and your caregiver should know that many nonprescription medications are not safe to take with ergocalciferol. Ask your doctor before you take any nonprescription medications while you are taking ergocalciferol. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- Tell your doctor if you have high blood levels of calcium and vitamin D, an abnormal sensitivity to high levels of vitamin D, or if you have malabsorption syndrome (problems absorbing food). Your doctor will probably tell you not to take ergocalciferol.
- Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had kidney or liver disease.
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking ergocalciferol, call your doctor.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Ergocalciferol will work only if you also get the right amount of calcium from the foods you eat. If you get too much calcium from foods, you may experience serious side effects from taking ergocalciferol. If you do not get enough calcium from foods, ergocalciferol will not control your condition. Your doctor will tell you which foods are good sources of calcium and how many servings you need each day. If you find it difficult to eat enough of these foods, tell your doctor. In that case, your doctor can prescribe or recommend a calcium supplement.
Your doctor may also prescribe a low-phosphate diet during your treatment with ergocalciferol. Follow these directions carefully.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Ergocalciferol may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- Pale skin
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- Feeling tired, difficulty thinking clearly, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, increased thirst, increased urination, or weight loss
- Muscle aches, stiffness, and weakness
Ergocalciferol may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from light, excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA’s Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
Symptoms of overdose may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Muscle aches and stiffness
- Pale skin
- Increased urination (especially at night) or increased thirst
- Intellectual disability
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests before and during your treatment with ergocalciferol.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.