What are the side effects of interferons?
Common side effects of interferons (that may occur with all interferons) include flu-like symptoms following each injection such as:
These side effects vary from mild to severe and occur in up to half of all patients. The symptoms tend to diminish with repeated injections and may be managed with analgesics such as acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) and antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl).
Tissue damage at the site of injection occurs with all of the interferons but more commonly with interferon beta-1b and pegylated interferon alfa-2b.
Other important side effects that may occur with all interferons, and that may be caused by higher doses are:
- Abdominal pain
- Joint aches
- Back pain
- Increased heart rate
- Low white blood cell count
- Low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
- Low red blood cell count
- An increase in liver enzymes
- An increase in triglycerides
- Skin rashes
- Mild hair loss or hair thinning
- Swelling (edema)
- Difficulty breathing
- Allergic or anaphylactic reaction
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