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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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When Will My Life Be Normal?
Apr 16, 2012

I have been on Atripla for 5 days now. I feel as if I am walking in a cloud all day long now. My hands and feet tingle. I feel light headed and dizzy and haven't been myself at all since I began taking Atripla. I'm having trouble staying focused on tasks and work is now difficult. How much longer until I can function properly again? I really miss my life.

Response from Dr. Henry

Yikes from that description you may well be having highly bothersome side effects from the efavirenz in Atripla (well known to cause brain side effects). Those side effects often peak at about 1-3 weeks with by 4 weeks the rate dropping down to perhaps 10% or less. I would inform your HIV specialist who likely is familiar with those problems. When I have patients who experience your symptoms we try to wait another week or so before considering a switch to an alternative regimen. Avoiding taking Atripla near a meal with fatty foods can help-sometimes switching to morning dosing versus evening dosing also may help. The rate of side effects in some patients due to slower clearance of efavirez can aggravate side effects (in some cases can check levels of the efavirenz to sort out). Alternative drugs are available so if you still are having such problems in several weeks a switch off efavirenz is worth considering. KH

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