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Interferon Side Effects

Interferon Side Effects

Though interferons are widely taken as a treatment for several conditions, there have been certain side effects that have been reported. This article goes into detail about those side effects.
Rujuta Borkar
Interferons (IFNs) are naturally occurring protein build ups that are secreted by the body to fight against certain bacteria, viruses, and parasites that attack it. They work in the way of boosting the immune system and producing added white blood cells for the body. Interferon is used for treatment of conditions like melanoma, hepatitis C, leukemia, hepatitis B and other such conditions. While they have several advantages, there have been several side effects that have come to the fore. The following article will go into these side effects.
Fatigue and Tiredness
There have been reports of constant fatigue and tiredness during the administered treatment of IFN. These symptoms don't go away until the entire treatment is over and the effects last for quite some time even after the treatment has ended. This has several other related effects on the person, like inability to concentrate and reduced productivity.
Flu-like Symptoms
This is also a common side effect. The shot will result in the person immediately developing flu like symptoms that run into temperatures, chills, headaches and joint aches. These last for sometime but get lesser and lesser with every passing hour. Taking a paracetamol before the shot and after every 4-6 hours after the shot will help tremendously.
Nausea
For most, nausea and diarrhea develops almost immediately after. It can range from mild nausea to chronic nausea. It might help if the shot is taken with the help of some food. So also include a lot of fluids in your diet.
Weight Loss
Weight loss that drives into anorexia even, is another side effect of the interferon drug. This happens because the person has severe loss of appetite and ends up feeling full even before he/she has eaten. The shot might even lead to a metallic taste in the mouth that does not make the prospect of eating very attractive and leads to nausea.
Psychological Effects
The intake of interferon can lead to conditions such as depression, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, irritability, and disorientation. Especially, if the course has been taken for a long time and in high doses.
Harmful for Pregnancy
Interferon should not be taken by pregnant women because it has shown to have some adversely harmful effects on the unborn child. Couples who are on interferon shots should not try to get pregnant either.
Other Side Effects
There are other interferon side effects that include conditions like:
  • Skin rashes
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Toxicity of the liver
  • Memory loss
  • Manic symptoms
  • Tremors
  • Back pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Hair loss
  • Coughing
  • Water retention (edema)
  • Anemia
  • Loss of fertility
  • Anxiety
  • Hot flushes
  • Increased sweating
  • Earache
  • Hormonal and metabolic side effects have also been found.
While interferon might be taken as a drug to boost the immune system and treat varied conditions that are not treated by many other drugs, the side effects are also many. All these conditions, especially, the serious ill effects might not affect all people, but the mild ones like fatigue and fever do affect the maximum number of patients who take them. That is why it is important to consult a doctor before taking the course.
Disclaimer - This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.