A family of medications known as immunosuppressant medications works to weaken or suppress the immune system.
Some of these medications are employed to reduce the likelihood that the body may reject a transplanted organ such a liver, heart, or kidney. They are referred to as anti rejection medications.
Lupus, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis are autoimmune diseases that are frequently treated with other immunosuppressant medications.
What you should know about immunosuppressant medications, how they work, and potential side effects if your doctor has recommended one for you. You may learn more about what to anticipate when taking an immunosuppressant medication and its potential benefits by reading the material below.
Immunosuppressants: what are they?
Immunosuppressants are medications that control your immune system.
The immune system of the body assists in warding off illnesses brought on by infections. But occasionally, healthy cells and tissues are inadvertently attacked by the immune system. Immunosuppressive medications can impede or end this response
Who needs immunosuppressive drugs?
Immunosuppressants may be suggested by your doctor if you have:
bone marrow or stem cell transplant.
What part do immunosuppressive drugs play in autoimmune diseases?
The immune system misidentifies healthy tissue and cells as foreign invaders when a person has an autoimmune illness (like germs). In essence, the immune system rebels and assaults the body. This reaction can result in many autoimmune disorders, depending on which area of the body is being attacked.
Immunosuppressants slow down the immune system, which helps stop inflammation and cell deterioration. These medications lessen symptoms. Even autoimmune diseases can be put into remission with their help (you have no signs of the disease).
If you have one of the following autoimmune illnesses, immunosuppressants may be necessary:
intestinal inflammation, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
a number of sclerosis.
Psoriatic arthritis or psoriasis.
Almost all recipients of organ transplants are required to take immunosuppressant medications. This is because a transplanted organ is treated as a foreign substance by your immune system. Your immune system responds by attacking the organ just like it would any other foreign cell. If substantial damage results, the organ may need to be removed.
Drugs that suppress your immune system lessen your body’s response to the foreign organ. The medications enable the transplanted organ to survive undamaged and in good condition.
What function do immunosuppressive drugs serve in organ transplants?
Immunosuppressants help avoid organ rejection in transplant recipients. Your immune system is aware that the new organ was not originally a part of your body. It will attempt to kill the new organ because it sees it as a danger. Immunosuppressive medications manage this reaction, safeguarding the new organ.
During the organ transplant, you will be given high doses of immunosuppressants (induction drugs). This promotes the success of transplants. You’ll need to take immunosuppressants (maintenance medications) every day for the rest of your life to prevent organ rejection.
Depending on how quickly your immune system adapts to the replacement organ, the drug dosage may be reduced. Prednisone is frequently prescribed by medical professionals for organ donation.
What part do immunosuppressants play in bone marrow transplants using stem cells?
Numerous diseases can be treated by stem cell transplantation, including:
Leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma are examples of blood malignancies.
Blood diseases including thalassemia and sickle cell anemia.
issues with the bone marrow, such aplastic anemia.
Several stem cell procedures utilize your own cells (autologous transplant). An autologous transplant does not require the use of immunosuppressant drugs.
Through allogeneic stem cell transplants, unhealthy cells from your body are replaced with healthy ones from a donor (called a graft). Donor cells start to develop a new immune system in your body after a transplant (the host).
This new immune system occasionally perceives your body as alien. Healthy tissues and organs might be attacked by the immune system. As a result, graft-versus-host disease develops (GVHD).
Immunosuppressive drugs lessen the likelihood of GVHD. For several weeks to months before, during, and after a stem cell transplant, you are given several intravenous (IV) or oral immunosuppressants. Before the new immune system settles down, you might need to take immunosuppressants for years.
What categories do immunosuppressants fall under?
One of the most often prescribed immunosuppressants by doctors is corticosteroids, such as prednisone. However, there are several immunosuppressant subtypes. Based on your unique condition and symptoms, your doctor will choose a drug (or a combination of immunosuppressants).
What adverse reactions could immunosuppressants cause?
Immunosuppressive drugs can have a significant impact on the body. To ensure that drug levels don’t get too high, your doctor will perform routine blood testing. Serious negative effects may result with high dosages.
Depending on the immunosuppressant type, there are different side effects. These medicines may result in:
hair growth or hair loss
Headaches. difficulty paying attention or remembering.
elevated blood pressure
weaker bones (osteoporosis).
upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting.
What dangers or side effects might immunosuppressants have?
An immune system that has been repressed struggles to fend off infections. You are more likely to experience:
such as sepsis and MRSA blood infections.
Skin fungus and thrush are examples of fungal infections.
Infections of the skin like cellulitis.
respiratory illnesses, such as the flu, the common cold, and pneumonia.
When should I make a call to my doctor?
If any of the following occur, contact your healthcare professional right away:
extreme weakness or tiredness.
a lower back ache.
nausea, vomiting, discomfort in the abdomen, or worries about weight.
Urination that hurts or that occurs frequently.
infection symptoms, such as fever and chills.
What kind of after-care do I require if I’m on immunosuppressants?
Blood tests will be administered more often to check on your medicine efficacy and adverse effects. Depending on the symptoms and adverse effects, your healthcare professional may raise or reduce the dosage.
These medications are frequently used throughout life by people with autoimmune disorders and organ transplants. After the risk of GVHD has passed, stem cell transplant patients may be able to stop taking the medications.
Exams and dose adjustments
You will get routine blood testing while using immunosuppressant medication. These tests assist your doctor in determining whether dose adjustments are necessary and how well the medications are working. The tests will also enable your doctor to determine whether you have any adverse effects from the medications.
Depending on how your autoimmune illness reacts to the medicine, your doctor may change the dosage if you have it.
Your doctor could gradually lower your dose if you’ve had an organ transplant. This is because as time passes, the likelihood of organ rejection decreases, potentially reducing the requirement for these drugs.
However, the majority of transplant recipients will require lifelong administration of at least one immunosuppressant medication.
How do I take immunosuppressive medications?
Immunosuppressive medications have potent effects. It’s crucial to adhere to your healthcare provider’s instructions. Every day, ideally at the same time each day, you should take the specified medication.
An autoimmune disease flare-up might occur if you miss one dose of your medication (return or worsening of symptoms). Missing a dosage increases your chance of organ rejection or GVHD problems if you are a transplant recipient. If you skip a dosage, get in touch with your doctor right away.
Drugs that weaken the immune system might be problematic for persons who have specific medical disorders. Before beginning to use immunosuppressants, disclose to your doctor if you have any of the following conditions:
history of shingles or chickenpox allergies to a particular medication renal or liver illness
Immunosuppressants: Are they safe to use during pregnancy or breast-feeding?
Before getting pregnant, tho`se who take immunosuppressants should see their doctors. Immunosuppressants can sometimes result in birth abnormalities. Taking some medications when pregnant or nursing may be dangerous. You might have to change to a different medication.
For many patients, immunosuppressants have life-saving advantages. However, weakening your immune system might have negative side effects and raise your chance of developing health issues. Your medical professional will keep a close eye on your situation and look out for any negative drug side effects. To obtain the most efficient therapy with the fewest complications, you may alter medications or dose levels. If you suffer adverse effects that are life-threatening or if the medication doesn’t relieve your symptoms, tell your doctor right away.
Consult your physician.
Those who have undergone organ transplantation or autoimmune illnesses can manage their body’s immune response with the aid of immunosuppressive drugs. These medicines are effective, but they are also potent. If your doctor gives you a prescription for these, you should learn everything you can about them.
Remember to see your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. You may have the following queries:
Do I have a greater chance of experiencing any immunosuppressant drug adverse effects?
What must I do if I believe to be experiencing an adverse effect?
Do I currently take any medications that might affect how my immunosuppressant treatments work?
What signs of organ rejection should I be on the lookout for?
What should I do if a cold strikes while I’m taking this medication?
For how long do I need to take this medicine?