Hydroxyurea

What condition does Hydroxyurea treat?

Hydroxyurea is a medication used for those with sickle cell anemia. It is a hereditary form of anemia. Anemia is a type of illness in which there are not enough healthy blood cells to transport sufficient oxygen through your body.

This medication helps to decrease the sum of painful crises caused by the disease. This will also reduce the need for blood transfusion. This may also be used to treat several types of cancer like chronic myelogenous leukemia and squamous cell carcinomas.

Hydroxyurea belongs to the class of medications known as antimetabolites. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already approved this drug.

How does Hydroxyurea work?

Hydroxyurea works in two ways:

  • The first way is in the red blood cells. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin that carries oxygen to all parts of the body. People who have sickle cell disease make abnormal hemoglobin called sickle hemoglobin. It causes red blood cells to become stiff and sticky. The sickle cell can then cause a block in the flow of blood to important organs. Hydroxyurea helps the body make hemoglobin called hemoglobin F. It is usually only made by babies in the fetal stages of life or before birth. With higher levels of hemoglobin F, red blood cells are less likely to sickle and cause problems.
  • Hydroxyurea also works by lowering the number of neutrophils (an infection that fights with white blood cells). This can be a good thing because the increased neutrophil count makes the blood ‘stickier’ and ‘thicker’. It increases the chance that the sickled cells will get stuck in the veins. It also causes the blockage that causes the problems.

What is the recommended dosage of Hydroxyurea?

The dosage is based on your medical condition and response.

This is usually taken once a day. It is to be taken by mouth with a full glass of water. You may take it with or without food. Swallow it as a whole do not break or chew the capsule. Use this regularly to get the most benefit of it.

If you cannot swallow the tablet as a whole, you may dissolve it with a small amount of water in a teaspoon for about 1 minute. Swallow the mixture right away, and then drink a glass of water. Use this medication exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not use it more often, do not use more of it, and do not use it for longer than your doctor recommended.

What are the side effects of Hydroxyurea?

  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Bleeding
  • Infections
  • Mouth sores

What are the precautions in taking Hydroxyurea?

  • Before using this drug, discuss with your doctor the risks and benefits of this product.
  • Let your doctor know if you are planning to get pregnant before taking this. If you are already pregnant or breastfeeding women, consult your doctor first.
  • You should not suddenly stop taking this. Your condition might get worse.
  • Make sure any doctor who treats you knows that you are using this medication. You may need to stop using this medicine several days before you have medical tests.