Immunotherapy autoimmune side effects occur by tissue or function destruction of an organ or multiple organs due to the humoral or cellular immune responses of the individual to his tissue constituents.
Autoimmune-related side effects vary in onset, duration, severity, and underlying biology. In addition, it affects a broad range of organs. Hence, it requires a specific management approach. Immunotherapy autoimmune side effects can occur during the first three months, or after immunotherapy has been discontinued.
The potential side effects of immunotherapy usually result from an overstimulated or misdirected immune response. The side effects include
- Excessive itching (Pruritus)
- Skin Rash
- Diarrhea (Loose stools)
How bad are my immunotherapy autoimmune side effects?
Mild: The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, rash, itching, muscle ache and chills. Most of the time, mild symptoms can be safely managed at home by following the tips given in the section below.
Moderate: The symptoms are fatigue, coughing, appetite loss (anorexia), headaches, constipation or diarrhea, fever and flu like symptoms.
Severe: You may have severe infections, skin reactions, neuropathy, lung, kidney or heart inflammation. It requires immediate treatment under your doctor’s supervision.
How to manage mild to moderate side effects?
- You may temporarily or permanently take off treatment to reduce the hyper immune activity.
- You may receive steroids or immunosuppressive antibodies for checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapies. It dampens immune activity and minimizes potential damage from any further autoimmune reactions.
- You can manage various potential side effects with early intervention. Therefore, you must report any adverse health or overall well-being changes to the healthcare team as soon as you notice them.
How to manage severe autoimmune side effects?
Inform the doctors as soon as there are visible changes in your external body appearance, health, or overall physiological state after being treated with immunotherapy.
Does autoimmune disease increase the risk of autoimmune side effects?
- It depends on a case-to-case basis
- Flares of the pre-existing disease may occur
- Autoimmune side effects are not necessarily the same as pre-existing autoimmune diseases.
- Limited information is available on this topic.
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