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What Is Phenazopyridine?

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  • Written By: Jacquelyn Gilchrist
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2016
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Phenazopyridine is a generic medication commonly marketed under the brand names Pyridium®, Azo®, and Uricalm®. It may be available over-the-counter or a doctor may prescribe it. This drug may help treat symptoms of a urinary tract infection, as well as other conditions that can cause irritation to the urinary tract. Patients may find relief of pain, increased urination, and urgent urination. It cannot cure the root cause of the patient's symptoms.

This medication is typically taken three times daily or as recommended by a physician. It should be taken with a full glass of water and a meal. Phenazopyridine is not intended for use longer than two days, unless the patient is otherwise directed by a doctor. The physician will likely also prescribe antibiotics to eradicate the infection.

Some side effects may occur with the use of phenazopyridine, which should be reported to the doctor if they are troublesome. Patients may experience headache, an upset stomach, or dizziness. Other side effects may be harmless, such as the discoloration of urine and tears. They may appear brown or reddish-orange.

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Less commonly, more serious side effects may occur while taking phenazopyridine, which require emergency medical care. Patients should be alert for the possibility of bloody urine, changes in the amount of urine, and severe abdominal pain. Fever, chills, and vomiting may also occur. Some patients have reported experiencing jaundice, shortness of breath, and a rapid heartbeat. Seizures may also occur rarely, along with bluish skin discoloration, a skin rash, or swelling of the hands or feet.

Certain special precautions may be needed for patients taking phenazopyridine. Diabetics should be aware that it can affect glucose test results, as well as tests for ketones in the urine. A doctor can recommend a brand of test strip to use that will give an accurate result. Laboratory tests may also be affected by phenazopyridine. In addition, since the drug can stain tears, patients should avoid wearing contact lenses until they are finished taking the medicine.

Before using phenazopyridine, patients must disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements to avoid a potential interaction. As of 2011, it is unknown whether this drug may pass into breast milk and affect a nursing infant. Women who are pregnant should discuss the potential risks with their doctors before using it. Phenazopyridine may be contraindicated for use by those who have kidney disease, liver disease, or a blood disorder, such as hemolytic anemia.

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