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The most common side effects of emtricitabine include dizziness, diarrhea, and headaches. In most cases, however, the side effects are minor and easily treated by you or your healthcare provider. In some cases, more serious emtricitabine side effects can occur. If you experience symptoms such as depression or signs of an allergic reaction, be sure to seek immediate medical attention.

Side Effects of Emtricitabine: An Introduction

As with any medicine, side effects are possible with emtricitabine (Emtriva®). However, not everyone who takes the medication will experience side effects. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well. When side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are easily treated by you or your healthcare provider.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with emtricitabine. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list of emtricitabine side effects with you.)

Side Effects of Emtricitabine to Report

There are a number of side effects with emtricitabine that you should report to your healthcare provider. These include, but are not limited to:
  • High triglycerides or high cholesterol
  • Frequent infections, which may be a sign of low neutrophil levels in the blood (known medically as neutropenia)
  • Symptoms of lactic acidosis (too much lactic acid in the blood), such as:


    • Feeling tired or weak
    • Muscle pain
    • Trouble breathing
    • Feeling cold
    • Cold or blue hands and feet
    • Dizziness or lightheadedness
    • A slow or irregular heartbeat
    • Persistent nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain (stomach pain)
    • Shortness of breath
    • An enlarged or tender liver
    • Weight loss


  • Changes in the distribution of fat on your body (such as a "buffalo hump")
  • Depression (see Emtriva and Depression)
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, including an unexplained rash, hives, itching, unexplained swelling, wheezing, or difficulty breathing or swallowing.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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