Generic Name: albendazole (Oral route)
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
- Tablet, Chewable
Therapeutic Class: Anthelmintic
Chemical Class: Benzimidazole
Uses For Albenza
Albendazole is used to treat neurocysticercosis, an infection of the nervous system caused by pork tapeworms. This medicine is also used to treat cystic hydatid disease of the liver, lung, and peritoneum, an infection caused by dog tapeworms.
Albendazole is used to treat infections caused by worms. It works by keeping the worm from absorbing sugar (glucose), so that the worm loses energy and dies.
This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Once a medicine has been approved for marketing for a certain use, experience may show that it is also useful for other medical problems. Although these uses are not included in product labeling in the U.S., albendazole is used in certain patients with the following infections:
- Cutaneous larva migrans.
- Common roundworms (ascariasis).
- Hookworms (ancylostomiasis and necatoriasis).
- Pinworms (enterobiasis or oxyuriasis).
- Tapeworms (taeniasis).
- Whipworms (trichuriasis).
For patients taking albendazole for hookworms:
- In hookworm infections, anemia may occur. Therefore, your doctor may want you to take iron supplements. If so, it is important to take iron every day while you are being treated for hookworm infection. Do not miss any doses. Your doctor may also want you to keep taking iron supplements for at least 3 to 6 months after you stop taking albendazole. If you have any questions about this, check with your doctor.
For patients taking albendazole for pinworms:
- In some patients, pinworms may return after treatment with albendazole. Wear pajamas and underwear to sleep, take a bath every day, and wash (not shake) all bedding and nightclothes (pajamas) after treatment to help prevent reinfection. Treatment may be repeated after 3 weeks.
- Pinworms may be easily passed from one person to another, especially among persons in the same household. Therefore, all household members may have to be treated at the same time to prevent their infection or reinfection.
Before Using Albenza
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of albendazole to treat neurocysticercosis in children. However, hydatid disease is uncommon in children.
Although appropriate studies on the relationship of age to the effects of albendazole have not been performed in the geriatric population, no geriatric-specific problems have been documented to date.
|All Trimesters||C||Animal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women OR no animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women.|
Studies in women suggest that this medication poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.
Interactions with Medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following may cause an increased risk of certain side effects but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use this medicine, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.
- Grapefruit Juice
Other Medical Problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Bone marrow problems (eg, agranulocytosis, aplastic anemia, granulocytopenia, pancytopenia)—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Cysticercosis involving the eye—Patients who are being treated with albendazole for neurocysticercosis should be examined for lesions in the eye. Using this medicine may increase your risk of side effects involving the eye.
- Liver disease or
- Liver enzymes, elevated—Use with caution. May increase risk for more serious side effects.
Proper Use of Albenza
Use this medicine exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not use more of it, do not use it more often, and do not use it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. To do so may increase the chance of side effects.
No special preparations (fasting, laxatives, or enemas) or other steps are necessary before, during, or immediately after treatment with albendazole.
Take this medicine with meals, especially with food containing fat, to help your body absorb the medicine better.
You may crush or chew the tablet and swallow it with water. If you have difficulty with swallowing, you may take the chewable tablet.
If you are taking this medicine for neurocysticercosis, your doctor will give you additional medicines (such as medicines for seizures or steroids) while you are taking this medicine.
To help clear up your infection completely, take this medicine exactly as directed by your doctor for the full time of treatment. In some infections, additional treatments with this medicine may be needed at 2-week intervals to clear up the infection completely. Do not miss any doses.
The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For oral dosage forms (chewable tablets or tablets):
- For hydatid disease of the liver, lung, and peritoneum:
- Adults weighing 60 kilograms (kg) or more—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is usually 400 milligrams (mg) two times a day, taken with meals for 28 days (1 cycle). This is followed by not taking albendazole for 14 days, for a total of 3 cycles.
- Adults weighing less than 60 kg—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is usually 15 mg per kg of body weight per day, divided into two doses, taken with meals for 28 days. This is followed by not taking albendazole for 14 days, for a total of 3 cycles. The dose is usually not more than 800 mg per day.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For neurocysticercosis:
- Adults and children weighing 60 kilograms (kg) or more—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is usually 400 milligrams (mg) two times a day, taken with meals, for 8 to 30 days.
- For adults and children weighing less than 60 kg—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is usually 15 mg per kg of body weight per day, divided into two doses, taken with meals, for 8 to 30 days.
- For hydatid disease of the liver, lung, and peritoneum:
If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Precautions While Using Albenza
It is important that your doctor check your progress after treatment. This is to make sure that the infection is cleared up completely, and to allow your doctor to check for any unwanted effects. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
If your symptoms do not improve after you have taken this medicine for the full course of treatment, or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
For women of childbearing age, it is important that you use an effective form of birth control while using this medicine and for at least 1 month after your last dose. Also, your doctor should give you a pregnancy test before you start the medicine to make sure you are not pregnant.
Albendazole can temporarily lower the number of white blood cells in your blood, increasing the chance of getting an infection. It can also lower the number of platelets, which are necessary for proper blood clotting. If this occurs, there are certain precautions you can take, especially when your blood count is low, to reduce the risk of infection or bleeding:
- If you can, avoid people with infections. Check with your doctor immediately if you think you are getting an infection or if you get a fever or chills, cough or hoarseness, lower back or side pain, or painful or difficult urination.
- Check with your doctor immediately if you notice any unusual bleeding or bruising; black, tarry stools; blood in the urine or stools; or pinpoint red spots on your skin.
- Be careful when using a regular toothbrush, dental floss, or toothpick. Your medical doctor, dentist, or nurse may recommend other ways to clean your teeth and gums. Check with your medical doctor before having any dental work done.
- Do not touch your eyes or the inside of your nose unless you have just washed your hands and have not touched anything else in the meantime.
- Be careful not to cut yourself when you are using sharp objects such as a safety razor or fingernail or toenail cutters.
- Avoid contact sports or other situations where bruising or injury could occur.
For patients treated for neurocysticercosis, this medicine may increase your risk for increased pressure in the head or seizures. Tell your doctor right away if you have these symptoms.
Check with your doctor right away if you have pain or tenderness in the upper stomach, pale stools, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
Albenza Side Effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:Less common
- Black, tarry stools
- bleeding gums
- blood in the urine or stools
- chest pain
- painful or difficult urination
- pinpoint red spots on the skin
- shortness of breath
- sore throat
- sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
- swollen glands
- ulcers, sores, or white spots in the mouth
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- Blistering, peeling, loosening of the skin
- blurred vision
- dark-colored urine
- general feeling of tiredness or weakness
- joint or muscle pain
- light-colored stools
- red, irritated eyes
- stomach pain, continuing
- tightness in the chest
- yellow eyes or skin
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:More common
- Abdominal or stomach pain
- thinning or loss of the hair
- Lack or loss of strength
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
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