What Are the Side Effects of Interferon Therapy For MS?

One the most common medications used to treat the symptoms of MS is Interferon therapy. Beta Interferon therapy is considered a disease modifying agent, this means that the medication is designed to alter the way the disease continues to behave in the patient’s body rather than actually offer any type of relief from the current symptoms.  However due the nature of the medication and its ability to suppress the immune system there have been reports of side effects that can range from mild to very serious and a patient should take the time to be aware of all of them before making the choice to use this type of therapy.

One of the most common side effects of Interferon therapy is a flu like illness. These symptoms range from chills and headaches to muscle and joint pains. They can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. While most patients can gradually become tolerant of these unpleasant side effects over time and can take drugs like ibuprofen to help lessen the impact of the symptoms they are none the less very unpleasant.

Psychiatric side effects of Interferon therapy for MS have received a lot of coverage and while many are not sure if they are a result of the drug or the disease it is being use to treat, it must be noted. Most multiple sclerosis patients are at risk for depression and studies show that these risks are elevated in many patients who are undergoing Interferon therapy and should be closely monitored. Other mental issues that have been noted with this type of therapy are irritability, confusion, emotional instability and insomnia. If the patient exhibits any of these side effects immediate medical help should be consulted.

Among the list of the more severe side effects of Interferon therapy for MS is the possibility of developing thyroid dysfunction and or liver disease. Due to these increased risks patients should be continuously monitored for these issues. Women who are either pregnant or are considering becoming pregnant should not undertake Interferon as a recent study has shown a significant rise in the rate of stillbirths and low birth weight babies to those on therapy. Before undergoing any form of medication and therapy do your research and make an informed decision as to what is best for you and your body.