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Immunosuppressive Drugs

Immunosuppressive drugs also known as anti-rejection drugs are used to inhibit or suppress the activity of the immune system. The drugs used to prevent the body from showing rejection of the transplanted organ. Immunosuppressive drugs are used in immunosuppressive therapy and can be divided into various classes according to their mode of action.The Immunosuppressant drugs that are currently used includes:

  • Cyclosporins: these drugs inhibit the T-cell activation and prevent the T-cells from attacking the foreign transplanted organ
  • Corticosteroids: these drugs are very useful to reduce the inflammation that is usually associated with transplant rejection
  • Azathioprine: the drugs disrupts the synthesis of DNA and RNA or cell division

Immune suppressive drugs are divided into two groups based on the time of their use:

  • Induction drugs: these are the drugs that are used to combat rejection at the time of transplant
  • Maintenance drugs: these drugs are for a long term use

Use of immunosuppressant:

The immunosuppressants are used in transplantation. When a person undergoes a transplant, say a kidney transplant, the body knows that the transplanted kidney is a foreign organ, and the immune system starts attacking the organ to destroy it.

Here, the immunosuppressants drugs work to reduce the body’s immune system. Hence, the body slowly starts accepting the foreign organ under the effect of anti-rejection drugs.

Does everyone needs antirejection drugs during a transplantation procedure?

The answer is Yes! The only exception is in case if the kidney comes from an identical twin, but in all other cases you need to take the prescription immunosuppressive drugs. Even a single dose miss can lead to rejection.You should not stop taking the drug until the doctor who has prescribed the antirejection drug says you to do so.

Missed dose:

In case you miss a dose accidently, then take the drug as soon as possible and inform your doctor as well. If it is the time of next dose, then do not attempt to take a double dose.

Signs of rejection you shouldn’t overlook:

Even though you are obediently taking the anti-rejection medicines prescribed by your doctor after transplantation, still you have the chances of developing a rejection. While taking the anti-rejection medicines, you should keep a close watch on the sign and symptoms your body shows. Watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 100 degrees
  • Blood in urine
  • Drop in urination frequency
  • Tenderness of kidney (when newly transplanted)
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Increase in weight

In case you find any of the following symptoms, you should call your doctor or the transplantation centre immediately and inform about your condition.

Side effects of the immunosuppressive drugs:

As the immunosuppressive drug suppresses the immune system, the body becomes more vulnerable to the infections. Infection chances are very high during the early phase of transplantation as the dose of anti-rejection drugs, or immunosuppressive drugs are very high. Following side effects should not be ignored:

  • High fever (above 100 degrees)
  • Drainage from surgical scars
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Cold /cough
  • Upset stomach
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver problems

If the drug is causing a problem then ask your doctor, he will make the suitable arrangement by either changing the medicine, dosage or the drug timings.

Recommended dosage:

The recommended dosage of the drug depends upon the condition of the doctor. Immunosuppressant’s drugs are available on the doctor’s prescription only and come in different forms such as tablets, capsules, liquid and injectable forms. Dosage is different in different patients.

It is very necessary to take the immunosuppressive drugs on time as it is very important, and a single missed dose may cause rejection of transplantation.

Important things to know:

  1. Undergo regular checkups with doctor
  2. Watch out for infections, common during anti-rejection drug consumption
  3. Prevent infection by preventing injury, bruising or bleeding. 
  4. People taking the immunosuppressive drugs should not come in contact with people taking live viral vaccines like polio as the virus may pass on to them very easily and cause infection due to low immune activity
  5. Do not take if you if you get pregnant while taking this drug then consult your doctor
  6. Breastfeeding is not recommended for the mother who is taking the anti-rejection drugs
  7. Immunosuppressant may cause drug interaction with certain varieties of drugs, thus ask your drug about the drugs that can interact with your immunosuppressive drugs.



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