Immunosuppressants: Classes, Uses, Side Effects and Guidelines

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Immunosuppressants are the medicine or the drugs that are used to decrease or suppress the efficacy of the body’s immune system to reject transplant organs such as the heart, kidneys, and liver. Therefore, it is also known as Anti-rejection drugs. These drugs are given in autoimmune diseases in which the body’s immune system fight against your own body cells. The common autoimmune diseases are SLE, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriasis. These drugs are only given to that patient who is immune-competent or their immune system is hyperactive.

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Immunosuppressive or immunocompromised patients are at high risk of getting side effects of Immunosuppressants drugs because their immune system is already weak and they can’t tolerate it for a long time. When your doctor prescribed you Immunosuppressants, you should know, what these drugs do, how they work, and what you might feel after their use.

Types of Immunosuppressants

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There are two main types of Immunosuppressants.

1- Induction Drugs

Powerful and strong anti-rejection drugs are used at the time of transplant. Their name shows their action i.e these drugs are induced when the organs is to transplant.

2- Maintenance Drugs

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Once you have given induction drugs at the time of transplant, further anti-rejection drugs are given for the long term to maintain the suppressive effect on the immune system of your body.

There are four classes of maintenance drugs

  • Calcineurin Inhibitors
  • Antiproliferative agents
  • mTOR inhibitor
  • Steroids

Dose and the type of Immunosuppressants vary from patient to patient and transplant to transplant depending on the immunity of the patient, severity of the disease Along with other comorbidities.

What do The Immunosuppressants treat?

Autoimmune Diseases

Immunosuppressant drugs are used to treat the many autoimmune diseases such as

  • psoriasis
  • lupus
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • multiple sclerosis
  • alopecia areata

In an autoimmune disease, the immune system of the body attacks the body’s own tissue. As immunosuppressants lower the efficacy of the immune system, they suppress this reaction. This helps decrease the signs and symptoms of the autoimmune disease on the body.

Organ Transplant

All the patients who receive an organ transplant such as heart, kidney, or liver, must use Immunosuppressants. Because when your body’s immune system receives a new transplant organ from another body, it takes it as a foreign object. After that, your immune system begins to fight against that organ to kill that transplant organ. This transplant rejection can cause severe destruction and lead to needing the transplanted organ removed.

Therefore, Immunosuppressants are very important to all patients who are going to take a transplanted organ. As immunosuppressant drugs weaken your immune system. This weak immune system lowers your body’s reaction to any foreign organ and allows the transplanted organ to remain healthy in the body.

What Are The Common Side Effects Of Immunosuppressants?

There are some bad outcomes of the Immunosuppressants drugs that all the patients must have to experience. The most common side effect of many Immunosuppressants drugs is immunodeficiency, as it weakens the immune system of your body and many drugs act non-selectively which may lead to increase susceptibility to infections and decreased cancer immunosurveillance.

Other common side effects are

  • Moon face
  • hypertension
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Fever
  • bloody urine
  • flu-like feelings
  • weight gain
  • dyslipidemia
  • GIT disturbance
  • hyperglycemia
  • lipodystrophy
  • liver injury
  • kidney injury.

The majority of immunosuppressive drugs also interact with other drugs and affect their metabolism and action. Therefore, the doctor should keep in mind the class of Immunosuppressants, their dose, and the possible outcomes of these drugs before the prescription.

If A Dose Is Missed, What Should Be Done?

If a dose is missed, call your doctor as soon as possible. Don’t ignore it and do not take a double dose with the next dose. Discuss this matter with your doctor. Don’t be afraid.

What to Avoid While On Immunosuppressants? – The Basic Food Guidelines to Follow

Immunosuppressants drugs weaken your body’s immune system, therefore the body becomes more susceptible to foodborne illness. This is the reason, food safety is most important during and after the anti-rejection or anticancer treatment. Diet guidelines during and after the treatment are recommended by the doctors and the institutions.
Basic guidelines that you must follow about food safety are

  • Wash the fresh fruits and the vegetables before peeling
  • Avoid undercooked or uncooked eggs and fish.
  • Avoid unpasteurized beverages such as raw milk yogurt, milk, and fruit juices.
  • Use thoroughly cook eggs, Avoid such foods that contain raw eggs such as homemade mayonnaise and raw cookies.
  • Avoid using well water until it has been boiled.
  • Avoid buffets and salad bars.

These are guidelines are given to you by your doctor before starting your treatment. These precautions may lower the post-effects of Immunosuppressants. All the patients must follow these all food guidelines and you may ask your doctor for any special instructions.

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