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What are the Side Effects of Interferon?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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Interferon is a term given to several types of protein found naturally in the human body. These proteins work to boost the immune system by interfering with the ability of a virus to reproduce. DNA technology has provided a means for these naturally occurring proteins to be used in the development of prescription medications aimed at curing or relieving symptoms of several diseases and medical conditions. Unfortunately, there have been a significant number of complaints regarding side effects from this type of medication. These side effects range from psychological disturbances to severe medical issues, some resulting in death.

Some of the most common and least dangerous of the side effects of interferon include flu-like symptoms. These symptoms can consist of extreme fatigue, nausea, and muscle pain. Loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss may also occur. These side effects can be irritating, but they are also relatively easy to treat in most cases. Some of the other side effects of interferon can be much more serious.

Psychological distress is among the more commonly reported side effects of interferon. Depression is reported among those taking interferon. This side effect has been reported in those with no previous history of depression as well as those already undergoing treatment for depression. There have been reports of relapse in patients with a history of drug addiction after beginning interferon treatment. Suicidal thoughts as well as actual instances of suicide have also been reported.

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Cardiac, or heart, issues have been reported as side effects of interferon usage. Myocardial infarction, better known as a heart attack, has been reported by several patients. Other heart issues surfacing as one of the apparent side effects of interferon usage are conditions known as cardiomyopathy, or a weakening of the heart muscle, and a reduction in cardiac function involving the left ventricle of the heart.

Liver toxicity can also be among the side effects of interferon usage. This is a common side effect, so liver function is checked regularly during interferon treatment. Patients undergoing this type of treatment are often asked to refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages or taking medications such as acetaminophen, which are processed by the liver.

Severe infections have occurred during interferon therapy. Other reported side effects of interferon include nerve paralysis as well as hearing loss. It is vital that the patient immediately report any negative side effects to a medical professional right away, as severe illness or even death may occur if these side effects are left untreated.

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