Frequently asked questions for Infliximab
Q. Is Infliximab an immunosuppressant?Yes, Infliximab is a type of immunosuppressant drug. It suppresses inflammation (pain and swelling) caused by your immune system in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, etc. It works by recognizing and binding to certain special proteins in the body known as tumor necrosis factor (TNF alpha) which is responsible for causing inflammation. Blocking the TNF alpha helps suppress inflammation, pain and swelling.
Q. Is Infliximab dangerous?Infliximab acts on the immune system and may reduce your ability to fight infections. This may increase the risk of getting serious infections that may spread throughout the body. These infections may be life threatening and may need to be treated in a hospital. Therefore your doctor will monitor you for any infection before starting and during your treatment. Inform your doctor if you develop a fever or any other sign of infection while taking Infliximab. Furthermore, there are some reports which suggest that Infliximab may increase the risk of some types of cancer. However, remember that your doctor has prescribed this medicine to you because he has judged the benefits to you to be greater than any potential risks. Consult with your doctor if you have any further concerns.
Q. How do I take Infliximab?You will have to visit the hospital to get this medicine whenever you have a dose scheduled. Infliximab is an intravenous infusion that is given via a drip into a vein in your arm over a two hour period under the supervision of a healthcare professional. After your first treatment, you will be given a second infusion after 2 weeks and third infusion 4 weeks later. After that, usually another infusion is given in every 8 weeks. Please consult your doctor to know the schedule that suits your condition best.
Q. Can Infliximab cause liver damage?Yes, in rare cases the liver may be affected. Contact your doctor in case you experience fever, dark brown-colored urine, extreme tiredness (severe fatigue) and pain on the right side of your stomach area (right-sided abdominal pain). You must also inform your doctor if you develop jaundice (skin and eyes turn yellow).
Q. Does Infliximab affect the heart?Yes, Infliximab may cause heart problems though not in everyone. It may cause heart attack (which can even lead to death), decreased blood flow to the heart or abnormal rhythm of the heart. This generally occurs within 24 hours of beginning of infusion. Symptoms may include chest discomfort or pain, arm pain, stomach pain, shortness of breath or anxiety. Other symptoms may include lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, sweating, nausea (feeling sick), vomiting, fluttering or pounding in your chest, a fast or a slow heartbeat, and swelling of your feet. Tell your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms.
Q. How soon can I experience relief in symptoms after taking Infliximab?This varies from person to person depending on the condition. However, in most cases, while improvement in symptoms appears within 2 weeks of starting Infliximab, the maximum benefits may be noticed after 4 weeks.
Q. Can you drink alcohol while taking Infliximab?Though alcohol does not interfere with the working of Infliximab, it is best to avoid alcohol. Discuss with your doctor if you are not sure.