Immunosuppressant drugs

Introduction to immunosuppressant drugs

From the name Immunosuppressant drugs, you can guess what the drugs can and will do. They have the ability to suppress your immune system when taken. You can as well refer to them as anti-rejection drugs. They are anti-rejection drugs in that they can make your body accept foreign cells (e.g. white blood cells), tissues (e.g. blood) or organs (e.g. heart, liver, kidney etc.) when they are planted in your body for whatever medical reason. They will cause your immune system not to react to organs foreign to your body.

Immunosuppressants could as well be used to manage disorders that are of an autoimmune origin. Examples of autoimmune diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, alopecia areata, psoriasis etc.

If you have visited your doctor and he prescribes for you, an immunosuppressant drug, the following parts of this article will tell you what it does, how it works, and then how you might feel upon using it.

 

What immunosuppressant drugs treat

Immunosuppressant drugs have typical use in the treatment of autoimmune-related conditions.

An autoimmune disease is a kind of disease where your own immune mechanisms fight against your body tissues. These kinds of conditions can thus be managed, and their effects reduced, with drugs that can weaken these autoimmune reactions.

Autoimmune diseases that are treated with immunosuppressant drugs include as already stated above; multiple sclerosis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, alopecia areata, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis etc.

 

Immunosuppressant drugs

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Organ transplant

Any cell, tissue or organ that is new to your body will spontaneously be ‘fought’ against by your immune system. This is because your body tags the cell, tissue or organ as a foreign visitor who is a threat to your body. Your immune system will fight against such foreign elements by inducing immune reactions to destroy this ‘guy’ once and for all if it is not immediately removed.  Hence, virtually everyone who must receive a foreign organ by transplant must necessarily be given an immunosuppressant drug.  What an immunosuppressant drug will do is make your immune system not to attack any foreign cell, tissue or organ that is introduced into your body. With immunosuppressant drugs, you can be sure that whatever is introduced into your body is safe for use in your body.

 

List of immunosuppressant drugs

If you have been paying attention to the details in this article, you will remember that I earlier submitted that immunosuppressant drugs can be used for preventing organ transplant reactions, and autoimmune related-diseases. It will, therefore, be safe to inform you that out of the different types of immunosuppressant drugs, the one that will be used to treat you will be determined by what needs to be managed or treated. Let me take you through the different types (classes) of immunosuppressant drugs. Their brand names have been included. Let me inform you ahead of hand that most of their names are tongue-twisting! Here are they;

 

Corticosteroids

  1. Prednisone. Different brands of Prednisone are Orasone and Deltasone
  2. Budesonide, also branded as Entocort EC.
  3. Prednisolone under the brand Millipred.

 

Calcineurin inhibitors.

  1. Cyclosporine. They are produced under the following brands Sandimmune, Neoral, and SangCya among others.
  2. Tacrolimus. These are its common brands; Prograf, Astagraf XL, Envarsus XR etc.

 

mTOR inhibitors

  1. Sirolimus, branded as Rapamune.
  2. Everolimus. Its associated brand names are Zortress, Afinitor etc.

 

IMDH inhibitors (Antiproliferative)

  1. Azathioprine. Common brands – Imuran and Azasan.
  2. Leflunomide. It is known as Arava – a brand.
  3. Mycophenolate. Common brands producing it are Myfortic and CellCept.

 

Biologics

  1. Abatacept: Its brand – Orencia.
  2. adalimumab: Its popular brand name – Humira.
  3. Anakinra, also known as Kineret.
  4. certolizumab, otherwise known as Cimzia.
  5. Etanercept: Branded as Enbrel.
  6. Golimumab: brand – Simponi
  7. Infliximab, a common brand is Remicade.
  8. Ixekizumab: Taltz is a well-known brand for it.
  9. Natalizumab: brand name is popularly Tysabri.
  10. Rituximab: Its company name is Rituxan.
  11. Secukinumab also called Cosentyx as a brand.
  12. Tocilizumab; Actemra is its known brand name.
  13. Ustekinumab. It can be called Stelara.
  14. Vedolizumab: Entyvio is a brand of it.

 

Monoclonal antibodies

  1. Basiliximab (commonly referred to its brand name, Simulect.
  2. Daclizumab: Zinbryta is the brand.
  3. Muromonab: You can call it Orthoclone OKT3.

 

Treatment Regimens

Think of injections, capsules, syrups, and tablets and think of the different regimen that is obtainable from immunosuppressant drugs. It is only your doctor that has the right to determine which your case needs as his ultimate goal which he has in view will be a treatment regimen that will be most effective and make you have fewer side effects. When your doctor has eventually decided which regimen is suitable for you, please ensure that you stick to his prescription.

For instance, if your visit to your doctor was driven by an autoimmune disease that you have, he is going to adopt a treatment plan for that and attempting to switch to another can worsen your condition.

If your visit was not due to an autoimmune disease but for an organ transplant, a different regimen will be adopted. Any little change in the plan can bring about a rejection of that tissue or organ in your body. Irrespective of the immunosuppressant drug being used for your peculiar presentation, ensure you notify your doctor once you skip any dose.

 

Test and dosage changes

Your doctor will tell you when you visit him for medical help on any autoimmune problems that you will undertake blood tests on a regular basis. This will allow him to study the potency as well as the side effects of the regimen he has adopted for your treatment. If the regimen is not effective, he will be left with no other choice than to switch plans.

If your basis for a hospital visit to see your doctor is an autoimmune disease, your doctor might just have to regulate the administration of your dosage as you respond to the therapy.

If your been treated with immunosuppressant drugs because you had received an organ or tissue transplant, your dosage will definitely be reduced by your doctor with time as an organ (or tissue) rejection risks decrease with time. Notwithstanding, you are likely to be permanently placed on an immunosuppressant drug by your doctor if you have undergone any form of transplant.

 

Side effects

They are dependent on the type of immunosuppressant treatment regimen prescribed and used by your doctor on you. To know the likely side effects that you might experience, your doctor or a licensed pharmacist will be of immense help as they are well-knowledgeable thus.

But it is needful to note that all forms of immunosuppressant drugs have an underlying possibility of causing an infection. They will predispose your body systems to develop an infection because, in an attempt to do their job, they will eventually reduce your immune system power. Once their immune system boosting functions are weak, infections are inevitable as their ability to fight infections will be reduced.  And what will this mean to the treatment of infections? Quite difficult to treat!

Be prepared to see your doctor immediately once you notice the following symptoms;

  1. Chills. You can as well refer to chills as shivering combined with fever.
  2. Lower back pains.
  3. Frequent urination that comes with difficulty and pains.
  4. Being weak unnecessarily.

 

Drug interactions

When you see your doctor for any treatment whatsoever and you have lately been on any medication, learn to bring this to his notice – whether the medications are ones you bought over the counter or the one another health personnel had recommended for you.

Doing this will allow your doctor to educate you on likely interactions you might experience from the treatment regimen he will possibly adopt for your treatment.

Your risk of developing drug interactions is also like that of the side effects of drugs; it is hinged on the drug type administered to you.

 

Warnings

You are likely to develop complicated health issues if you are placed on an immunosuppressant treatment plan when you have any of the under listed cases;

  1. Drug allergies: A drug allergy is a negative reaction in your body when you take certain medications.
  2. Former cases or what is called a history, of either chickenpox or shingles.
  3. Disorders of the liver or the kidney
  4. Pregnant women: The growing fetus can be at a very high risk of having a birth defect as immunosuppressant drugs can alter its developmental process. This, therefore, implies that should you be nursing the plan of conceiving any time soon and you are right there in your doctor’s office for any immunosuppressant treatment plan, let him know right away. He will help you realize the likely risks you might be getting yourself into and how you can avoid them.
  5. Nursing mothers: Nursing mothers are breastfeeding women. Immunosuppressant drugs can reduce milk production.

 

Talk with your doctor

If you care so much about drugs and your health, then I have got a word for you. As much as immunosuppressant therapies are of immense help in checking organ-induced immune reactions as well been very useful in managing autoimmune diseases, be free to ask your doctor of what to expect from their use.

Ask the following questions;

  1. Will I be at an increased risk of experiencing any side effects from any immunosuppressant treatment therapy?
  2. If I am experiencing any side effects whatsoever, what am I supposed to do?
  3. Will I in the course of been placed on an immunosuppressant treatment regimen, experience any drug interactions because of the medication I am currently taking?
  4. If at the end of an organ or tissue transplant, I experience certain symptoms, what are they likely going to be?
  5. What am I supposed to do should I experience a cold as a consequence of taking an immunosuppressant drug?
  6. If I am to take a particular immunosuppressant drug, what is the duration required of me to take it?
  7. Will it be necessary to use other kinds of drugs to treat this autoimmune disorder I am currently suffering from?

 

Questions and Answers

Question:

Is there any way I can reduce my chances of developing an infection when I am on an immunosuppressant treatment regimen?

Answer:

Yes, you can. You can help yourself by resting, eating and taking fluids, well. Reduce physical contacts with people with flu or infections. And there is this instruction we were all taught in elementary school -wash your hands as often as possible! You also need it now if you care about reducing your risks of catching an infection.

 

Note: Answers on this blog are strictly medical experts’ opinions and hence, only informational. So, you are advised not to take them as conclusive. Seek advice from any licensed medical practitioner.

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