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Humira Side Effects: What You Need to Know Before Starting Treatment

It can be helpful but not without its faults.

Lea Rae / Shutterstock

Humira was named as one of the world’s best-selling drugs by Pharmaceutical Technology. However, like every drug it does have its downfalls. Here is everything you need to know about the side effects before taking the drug.

Humira is the brand name for the drug adalimumab. It was approved for use by the FDA in 2002 and it is used to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and psoriasis. People who suffer from Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis also benefit from taking Humira. It is given as an injection and reduces inflammation by blocking TNF-alpha activity. Symptomatic relief varies with patients seeing results anywhere between two weeks and three months.

Common Side Effects

As with most drugs, Humira does have quite a few side effects. Common side effects include headaches, redness or bruising at the site of injection and the possibility of a rash if the patient suffers an allergic reaction. Due to the way in which the drug works on the immune system, you can become more at risk of colds. As a result some patients experience symptoms typical of a cold.

While these side effects are incovenient, they can be easilt managed. Staying hydrated and ensuring your body gets enough rest is important. You can also take medication for headaches.

More Serious Side Effects

With Humira leaving the immune system at risk, there have been cases of patients contracting more serious infections after taking the drug.

One infection is Tuberculosis (TB). The drug is thought to have caused active TB and the reactivation of latent TB. Doctors will normally test for this before prescribing the drug to patients. Other serious infections caused by the drug include bacterial sepsis and fungal infections.

There have also been reports of the drug causing a rare type of cancer known as lymphoma of the liver, spleen or bone marrow. The reports were mainly of teenagers and young men who suffered from Crohn’s disease of ulcerative colitis. Most were being treated with another drug called IMURAN (azathioprine) or PURINETHOL (6‐mercaptopurine, 6‐MP).

Because of the way the drug works, it leaves you at higher risk of any infections and these cases are normally quite rare. If you have any signs of infection, such as fever, aches and pains, coughs, skin sores, diarrhea or burning while urinating, you should speak to a doctor.

There is also little research into the effects of the drug on pregnancies and so it is always good to consult a doctor before taking it while pregnant.

Positive Effects of Humira

Though some side effects seem scary, it is important to remember that the more severe effects are not common. There are many positive aspects of the medication.

Humira treats a range of different conditions and the results are normally effective. Results do depend on the condition being treated, how the individual’s body reacts to medication and if the patient is being treated by any other medication.

It treats juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) in patients from the age of two years old. For children and adults with Crohn’s disease the medication can be given from the age of six. For ulcerative colitis the starting age is five. So the drug is safe for children depending on the condition.

Patients can be taught how to self-administer injections. It is easy and safe to use and saves trips to the doctor every time you need medication.

Listen To Your Doctors

Though the list of side effects can seem off putting, it is a drug which is approved and often recommended. It has helped lots of people in relieving symptoms of chronic illnesses and if the experts believe it is safe then we should trust them.

Of course, everyone is different and so will react differently. The most common side effects are easily remedied and experts believe that the positives outway the negatives. If you are taking it watch out for signs of infection. It is important to listen to healthcare professionals and always take the recommended dosage. Do your research but be weary of the information you come across. At the end of the day, your doctors know what’s best for you.

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