Infliximab: Warnings and Side Effects

Infliximab is an immunosuppressive drug. It can be available as a prescription and as an injectable solution. A common brand for infliximab is Remicade. It is usually used to help treat certain conditions related to arthritis, bowel diseases, and severe skin disease. These conditions include, but are not limited to ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis. Within this article, we will be observing the warnings and possible side effects of infliximab. First, let’s look at how the solution works.

Please note I am not a doctor. Although this article has undergone research to try to provide accurate and up-to-date information, do not replace your doctor’s advice about the following information. Contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

How does it work?

Infliximab works by blocking the action of TNF-alpha. TNF-alpha is also known as tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and it is a protein made by the body’s immune system. By blocking the action of TNF-alpha, infliximab helps decrease swelling. It also helps slow down the damage caused by too much of the natural protein. When there is too much TNF-alpha in the body the immune system may attack healthy tissues. This is why it is important that infliximab works by slowing down or stopping the damage caused by the protein TNF-alpha.

Warnings

There are some warnings for patients who are given infliximab. The following is a list that consists of warnings while taking infliximab:

Allergy

Infliximab can cause an allergic reaction. Let your doctor know if you have had any allergic reactions to infliximab or other medicines in the past. If you experience itchy patches of skin, hives, trouble breathing, high or low blood pressure, dizziness, fever, or chest pain, you may be experiencing a severe allergic reaction. Call 911 immediately if you believe you may be experiencing a severe reaction. Keep your doctor updated about your condition.

Alcohol

There are not any known interactions with light drinking. However, it is advisable to not consume alcohol while using infliximab.

Children

Do not give children this drug. Infliximab has not been established for individuals under the age of 18 years. However, your doctor may recommend infliximab for children over the age of 6 years to treat Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Pregnant Women

Women should avoid infliximab if they are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant. Let your doctor know if you become pregnant while taking infliximab. Although it is suggested to avoid this drug while pregnant, your doctor may recommend it if the potential benefit outweighs the possible risks.

Seniors

Adults older than 65 years are at a higher risk for a serious infection. Avoid taking this drug if you are a senior.

Other Conditions

Individuals who have certain health conditions should be cautious while using infliximab. These conditions include:

  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Blood problems
  • Nervous system problems
  • Heart problems
  • Infections

Let your doctor know if you have had any of these health conditions. It is important to not take infliximab if you have any of the conditions listed above.

Side Effects

In addition to warnings, there are some side effects that can occur while taking infliximab. Here is a list of possible side effects of the medication:

  • headache
  • coughing
  • stomach pain
  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • runny nose
  • trouble breathing
  • chills
  • fever
  • hives
  • rash

If any of these symptoms persist, contact your doctor as soon as possible. However, if the symptoms worsen or become more severe, stop taking this drug. As mentioned previously, some of these side effects may be severe allergic reactions. As well as the side effects listed above there are also more serious side effects. Below is a list of more severe side effects. Call 911 if your reactions appear to be life-threatening.

  • heart failure: difficulty breathing, unwanted weight gain
  • liver damage
  • blood problems: bruising easily, pale skin
  • seizures
  • blurred vision
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle or joint pain
  • swelling of the face or hands
  • psoriasis symptoms: red bumps on the skin, scaly patches
  • nervous system problems: vision changes, numbness in the body
  • infections: sore throat, sinus infection

Other Important Information

Talk to your doctor if you have other questions or concerns. There are other pieces of information to consider while taking the medication, including the TB test. Your doctor may test you for TB before prescribing you with infliximab. Other tests may include hepatitis B virus infection test, blood tests (for infections), and liver function tests. This is to make sure your risks will not increase while taking this drug. Make sure to take this drug as directed and ask your doctor for additional information.

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