Autoimmune Conditions

TNF–Alpha Blockers and Autoimmune Conditions

Tens of millions of Americans have autoimmune conditions, including rheumatiod arthritis, ulcerative colitis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn's disease, and others. If your doctor diagnoses you with an autoimmune condition, they may prescribe a medication from a class of drugs called "TNF–alpha antagonists."

You may need to have some diagnostic testing before you begin taking TNF–alpha blockers, including a test for tuberculosis (TB). Many people can have it in latent form with no symptoms at all and no idea they have it. It is important to be tested for TB before you start taking any medication that might allow TB to become an active disease.

TB is a bacterial infection that usually is treated with multiple antibiotics. Once the TB is fully treated, your physician may start your prescription for medicine for your autoimmune condition. But TB is not the only infection risk. Some medications used for autoimmune disorders can increase the risk of other types of infection, as well.

If you have an autoimmune disorder that causes medical problems with your skin or joints, your physician may prescribe medication that lessens the immune system reaction, however, making it easier for the body to get infections. While taking TNF–alpha blockers can manage your autoimmune disorder, it can also increase your infection risk.

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