Ribavirin is prescribed along with other medications to treat hepatitis C in patients who have never taken interferon. In some cases, it is also used in the treatment of hemorrhagic fever and in cases of SARS.


What is Ribavirin?


Ribavirin works by blocking the spread of the virus hepatitis C in the body. It is not known whether its consumption can cure the infection, prevent liver damage that can be caused by the disease or prevent transmission of the virus to other people.


How should Ribavirin be taken?


In general, Ribavirin is taken orally in the form of tablets, capsules (to swallow strictly intact) or liquid solutions, according to a dosage regimen of two doses a day (morning and evening) with food. The treatment can last from 24 to 48 weeks or even longer.


In case of occurrence of adverse effects the doctor may prescribe a lower dose or treatment discontinuation. Any changes to therapy, however, must only be made ​​by indication of a medical professional.


Side effects associated with Ribavirin


Ribavirin may cause anemia that can aggravate pre-existing heart problems and increase the risk of heart attack. Moreover, children can slow growth and gain weight.


Among the other possible adverse effects of this drug are included:


  • Cough
  • Stomach problems
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Altered taste
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Memory leaks
  • Skin irritation, itching or dryness of the skin
  • Sweats
  • Irregular or painful menstrual cycles
  • Bone or muscle pain
  • Hair loss


You should contact a doctor immediately if the use of Ribavirin triggers any of the following symptoms:


  • Urticaria
  • Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles or calves
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Stomach pain
  • Low back pain
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Blood in the stool
  • Dark stools
  • Stomach swelling
  • Confusion
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice
  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Vision problems
  • Fever, chills and other signs of an infection in progress
  • Depression
  • Self-injurious or suicidal thoughts
  • Mood swings
  • Excessive worry
  • Irritability
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Use of drugs or alcohol by those who already used in the past


Contraindications and warnings associated with the use of Ribavirin


Ribavirin should not be taken during pregnancy (or the prospect of a pregnancy) neither by the woman nor her partner. In the case of the man taking the drug it involves the need to have safer sex by using a condom simultaneously up to six months following discontinuation of therapy.


Ribavirin may affect the ability to drive or operate hazardous machinery. Furthermore, intake of alcohol during treatment may aggravate liver health.

It is recommended to drink plenty of water during treatment. Additionally, since the drug can lead to severe dehydration one should pay particular attention to the health of teeth and gums and, in case of vomiting, rinse your mouth.


Finally, before you start taking Ribavirin you should inform your doctor if:


  • You have any allergy to the active substance or other drugs
  • You have never taken a drug against hepatitis C
  • You are taking other medications, herbal remedies and supplements, remembering to mention didanosine, azathioprine, anxiolytics, antidepressants or other psychiatric drugs, medications against HIV and AIDS and medicines CEH suppress the activity of the immune system
  • You suffer (or have suffered) from kidney disease, liver failure or autoimmune hepatitis, suicidal thoughts, psychiatric diseases, cancer, AIDS, diabetes, sarcoidosis, Gilbert's syndrome, gout, liver disease, or a thyroid, pancreas, eyes or lungs disorder
  • You are infected with HIV
  • You abuse (or have ever abused) alcohol and if you have ever taken drugs
  • You have ever undergone a transplant surgery
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding