Precautions and Warnings With Modafinil
Being aware of the precautions and warnings with modafinil before starting treatment can help reduce risks and ensure safe treatment. Modafinil can cause severe allergic reactions, psychiatric symptoms, or Stevens-Johnson syndrome in some people. To help ensure that modafinil is suitable for you, tell your healthcare provider about all existing medical conditions you have and any other medications you are currently taking.
- Liver disease, such as liver failure, cirrhosis, or hepatitis
- Kidney disease, including kidney failure (renal failure)
- Any heart condition or problem
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking modafinil include the following:
- In rare cases, the medication can cause a life-threatening side effect known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Because this problem starts out with a rash, contact your healthcare provider immediately if you develop any unexplained rash while taking modafinil. Because it is impossible to know if the rash will develop into Stevens-Johnson syndrome, your healthcare provider may recommend that you stop taking the drug.
- Modafinil can cause severe allergic reactions. Seek medical attention immediately if you develop signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives; itching; wheezing or difficulty breathing; or swelling of the lips, mouth, or throat.
- Even though modafinil helps people stay awake, it usually is not completely effective at eliminating sleepiness. This can cause problems while driving or operating heavy machinery.
- The drug is a controlled substance, which means that it has the potential to be abused. If you feel the need to take more modafinil than prescribed or for a non-medical reason, please discuss this with your healthcare provider honestly and openly. These may be signs that you might have a problem with modafinil abuse or dependence.
- Some people have experienced psychiatric symptoms (such as anxiety, depression, hallucinations, or suicidal thoughts) while taking modafinil. Be sure to watch for these side effects during treatment. It may be wise to ask someone you trust to watch you carefully for such symptoms, as you may not notice them yourself.
- You should have an accurate and definite diagnosis of narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, or shift worker sleep disorder before taking modafinil. Many other conditions and sleep disorders can cause excessive sleepiness, so tests may be necessary in order to accurately diagnose your condition.
- When used in people with obstructive sleep apnea, modafinil should not be used without appropriate sleep apnea treatment (such as continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP). The drug only improves daytime sleepiness; it has no effect on the actual sleep apnea.
- Modafinil may not be safe for people with heart problems or high blood pressure. If you have such problems, check with your healthcare provider before taking the drug.
- Modafinil can interact with a number of different medications (see Drug Interactions With Modafinil). It is important to note that the medication can decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills, patches, and rings, possibly increasing the risk of pregnancy.
- If you have kidney or liver problems, your body may not handle modafinil as well as it should. You may need a lower dosage and, in some cases, the drug may not be recommended.
- It is not known if it is safe to drink alcohol while taking modafinil. Until more information is available, it is probably a good idea to avoid alcohol or at least limit your alcohol intake while taking the drug.
- Modafinil is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are not known (see Provigil and Pregnancy).
- It is not known if modafinil passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Provigil and Breastfeeding). It is important to understand that the HIV virus can be transmitted through breast milk and that breastfeeding is usually not recommended in women with HIV or AIDS.