Are long, stressful days making you feel run down? Are you catching every cold and virus that is doing the rounds? As we face a continued global health pandemic, it is more important than ever to boost and support our immune systems. Eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and making sure you are well-rested are all fantastic ways to keep your immune system in tip-top condition. But, if you need a bit of extra help, there are several drugs that can be taken to specifically support your immune system and help to reduce the length and severity of viral infection symptoms. One of these drugs is Nitazoxanide, traditionally prescribed as a broad-spectrum antiparasitic and has broad spectrum antiviral properties.
What is Nitazoxanide?
Nitazoxanide, also marketed under the brand name Alinia, is an antiprotozoal drug used to treat parasitic infections that is similar to metronidazole (Flagyl). It is approved by the FDA for the treatment of diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia duodenalis infections, (often referred to as “Traveler’s diarrhea”), in adults and children of the age of 1 year. Interest is growing in Nitazoxanide as a broad-spectrum antiviral agent as it has been shown to inhibit the replication of many viruses, including influenza and other viral illnesses. This interest is fuelled by the high safety profile of the drug. Combining nitazoxanide with ivermectin (another highly effective antiprotozoal and antiviral drug) enhances the anti-viral effect of these drugs, reducing your symptoms and helping you to recover quicker.
How does Nitazoxanide work?
Nitazoxanide is a member of the thiazolide family of drugs, which are synthetic nitrothiazolyl-salicylamide derivatives. Nitazoxanide is converted into the active metabolite tizoxanide in humans, which also belongs to the thiazolide class. Its antiprotozoal effects are caused by interference with certain chemicals involved in the energy metabolism of protozoal cells. Regarding its antiviral activity, evidence collected from various studies indicates that nitazoxanide may prevent the maturation of a viral surface protein, responsible for binding to target cells.
How should I take Nitazoxanide?
Nitazoxanide is a prescription-only medicine available in capsule form at a strength of 500mg. It is supplied in quantities of 6, 10, and 20. It is typically prescribed to be taken twice daily for 5 days. The doses should be taken 12 hours apart and with food. Do not take Nitazoxanide on an empty stomach. It is recommended that you take your doses of nitazoxanide at roughly the same time each day. You should drink plenty of water whilst you are taking this medication to avoid becoming dehydrated. As with any prescribed medication, you should follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information if you are unclear about anything.
What should I do if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose of nitazoxanide then you should take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, then you should skip the missed dose and continue to take it as normal. You should never take extra medicine to make up for your missed dose.
Are there any side effects?
As with any medication, nitazoxanide can cause some side effects. If you have any concerns, you should discuss these with your doctor. If you experience the following side effects, and they are severe or persist, then you should contact your doctor:
- Stomach pain
- Upset stomach
- Discolored urine
You should contact your doctor straight away if you experience a skin rash or itching or signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat, or difficulty breathing after taking nitazoxanide.
Can you drink alcohol when taking Nitazoxanide?
It is recommended that patients avoid alcohol when taking nitazoxanide as it may increase the risk of unwanted adverse effects.
Does Nitazoxanide interact with any other medications?
Nitazoxanide may interact with other medications, including recreational and supplementary drugs. You should discuss your current medications carefully with your prescribing doctor, making sure that he or she is aware of all medications that you are currently taking. It is particularly important to mention any blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin, as the doses of these may need to be adjusted or your response to the medication carefully monitored.
Is Nitazoxanide suitable for everybody?
Before taking nitazoxanide you should tell your doctor if you have liver or kidney disease, problems with your immune system, or have ever had human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
While nitazoxanide is unlikely to be harmful to an unborn baby, you should tell your doctor if you are pregnant or trying to conceive. You should also tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding as it is not currently known whether nitazoxanide can pass into breast milk or if it may harm a breastfeeding infant.
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