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Nuvigil® is a brand name for the generic medication armodafinil. It is prescribed to alleviate excessive sleepiness as a result of narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder. Patients with shift work sleep disorder may also use it, as they have irregularly scheduled working hours and cannot follow a normal sleeping pattern. Some people may also use the drug, along with breathing devices, to treat sleep apnea, a condition in which a person stops breathing while asleep. Nuvigil®, classified as a wakefulness-promoting agent, works by acting on natural substances in the brain.
Typically, a patient may take Nuvigil® for no longer than 12 weeks, or as prescribed by the doctor. This drug may be habit-forming, and should not be used longer than recommended. It should also not take the place of a healthy amount of sleep. Most patients will take one dose by mouth upon waking. Those using the drug to treat shift work sleep disorder will take it approximately one hour prior to starting work.
Some side effects from the use of Nuvigil® should be reported to the physician if they persist or become severe. These can include dizziness, problems concentrating, and problems falling asleep. Some patients may experience uncontrollable shaking, numbness of the extremities, and sweating. Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite can occur, as well as stomach pain, heartburn and diarrhea.
Nuvigil® may also cause more serious side effects, which warrant a doctor's immediate attention. These can include blistering or peeling skin, a rash, and mouth sores. Problems breathing or swallowing, chest pain, and an irregular or pounding heartbeat may also occur. Swelling of the facial area or extremities, general weakness, and anxiety have been reported. Other potentially dangerous side effects may include hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, or an abnormally frenzied and excited mood.
Alcohol should be strictly avoided while taking Nuvigil®. In addition, patients should discuss their use of grapefruit and any products containing grapefruit with the prescribing physician. Patients should use caution while driving, as the drug can affect a person's judgment or movement.
As of 2011, it is unknown whether Nuvigil® may harm an unborn or nursing baby. It can render hormonal birth control methods less effective. This effect can continue for up to a month after the patient has discontinued the drug, so patients are advised to use a barrier method of birth control.
Not all patients may be able to use Nuvigil®. They should disclose their other medical conditions, such as liver or kidney disease, heart disease, and any heart problems. The doctor will also need to evaluate other medications and supplements for possible interactions. For example, St. John's wort, antidepressants, and sedatives may interact with this drug.
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