Medicine blog #6: Humira
This will be the last in the series of medicine blogs for now. I am also going away on vacation for two weeks, so there will be no blogs in that time. I will be full ideas when I get back though! Today's blog is about Humira, which is what I'm currently on. I've been on Humira for about 7 years now, and I take it every week, which is rare, most people take it every other week. Over the years I've been on it alone and with other medications. I'm currently also taking Methotrexate, which was the first medicine blog I wrote. Humira seems to work well with no reaction, but it can't work alone. We've had a tough time finding the right combination - sometimes one combination will work for a little while, then I'll either have a bad reaction or flare up. So far, after 10 months of slowly increasing the Methotrexate and then switching from pills to injections, I seem to be doing well. I won't get my hopes up yet though, because you never know what can happen. The only thing I don't like about Humira is the sting! When you inject, it stings real bad. Even after the 7 years it still bothers me. Let's take a closer look at Humira.
Humira is an injection that is in a class of medications known as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors. It works by blocking the action of TNF, a substance in the body that causes inflammation. It is used to help treat the symptoms of auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, crohn's disease, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis.
Humira comes in a solution that is injected under the skin (subcutaneously), in either a pre-filled syringe or pen (see photo to the right). The pen is an automatic dispenser of medication, and some people find it easier than actually injecting. I've used the pen in the past when it first came out, but personally I prefer the injection. The pen dispenses the medicine for you quickly and accurately, but I like to be in control of how fast or slow the medication goes in me. It is normally injected every other week, but can vary by condition. Humira can be injected anywhere on the front of your thighs or stomach except your belly button (navel) and the area 2 inches around it. To prevent any bruising, redness or soreness, you should try to use a different site each time you inject. It is also important to inject at least 1 inch away from a spot that you have already used. Never inject into an area where the skin is tender, bruised, red, or hard or where you have scars or stretch marks.
Common side effects that occur with Humira are: redness, itching, bruising, pain, or swelling in the place you injected Humira injection, stomach pain, nausea, headache, back pain. I tend to get redness and bruising sometimes with my injections, and the medicine stings sometimes also. If I take the Humira out of the fridge for about 20-30 minutes before injecting, it tends to help eliminate the sting a bit. More serious side effects are: numbness or tingling, problems with vision, weakness in legs, chest pain, shortness of breath, rash, especially a rash on the cheeks or arms that is sensitive to sunlight, new joint pain, hives, itching, swelling of the face, feet, ankles, or lower legs, difficulty breathing or swallowing, fever, sore throat, chills, and other signs of infection, unusual bruising or bleeding, pale skin, dizziness, red, scaly patches or pus-filled bumps on the skin. Humira may also lower your ability to fight off infections, so if you do get sick it is important to speak to your doctor. Sometimes when sick, you need to skip a dose or two of the Humira to help get over the infection.
As always it is important to contact your doctor immediately if any of these, or other side effects might happen while on this or any other medication!
Humira seems to be one medication that has sort of worked for me over the years. I've had horrible allergic reactions with many other medications, and am at the point now where I don't have many options left. I've never had a reaction to Humira, so my doctor keeps me on it with conjunction with another medication. Currently, it's Methotrexate and for now it seems to be doing okay. If this doesn't work, it will be time to stop both medications and start from scratch. It would be great to just find that one medication that works, and works well. There is no cure for autoimmune diseases like RA, but there are medications that can help us feel somewhat normal. I hope that all of you fellow RAers, and others who suffer from illnesses, find medications that work for you.
Thank you to everyone who continues reading my blogs, I truly appreciate it! As I said in the begining, I will be taking a two- week vacation so no blogs for those two weeks. I'm going on a road-trip to visit my good RA friend, Brenna and then to visit my fiance's dad! Brenna and I wrote a blog together back in March, so those who are interested can read that as well. :) I will write one when I get back, and will tell you all about my fun trip!
Have fun, be safe! xo
Labels: Autoimmune, Humira, Rheumatiod Arthritis (RA)