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Nephrotic Syndrome: Adverse effects of Cyclosporine

Cyclosporine is a immunosuppressant drug widely used in post-allogeneic organ transplant such as kidney, liver or heart to reduce the activity of the patient's immune system.

Cyclosporine is a conventionally used medicine for autoimmune diseases such as Psoriasis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, Nephrotic Syndrome, etc.where the patient does not respond to the treatment with corticosteroids or methotrexate.

Cyclosporine is a very good immune-suppressive medicine but makes the patient susceptible to infection including cancer such as lymphoma.

The adverse effects could be listed as:

1) Adverse effects, which require immediate medical help (alarming signs), are:

  • Hypertension: Above 50% of patients taking cyclosporine develops high blood pressure. Known case of hypertension has a risk of developing heart disease.
  • Kidney Dysfunction:Scanty urine presenting as decreased frequency of urination or no urine at all.
  • The risk of both these problems increases with higher doses and longer treatment with cyclosporine.
  • Allergic reactions presenting as hives, swelling of face lips and throat or difficulty in breathing.
  • Seizure (convulsion)
  • Tachycardia (fast heart rate), muscle weakness or pain
  • Flu like symptoms as fever chills and sore throat
  • Jaundice presenting as yellowing of skin and sclera, dark urine, nausea, clay colored stools.
  • Drowsiness, confusion and mood changes
  • Easy bruising and bleeding
  • Swelling and weight gain
  • gum disease or overgrowth

2) Less serious side effects include:

  • Abnormal Hair Growth: Both men and women may develop hair growth in abnormal amounts on the face, chest and arms.
  • Nausea and diarrhea
  • Tremor: Above 50 % people develop tremors characterized by shaking. Leg cramps or muscle contractions might also be experienced.

Special precautions before starting cyclosporine:

  • A person suffering from any kidney disease, uncontrolled hypertension or cancer are not eligible to take this drug.
  • Psoriasis patients who have had certain previous treatments like PUVA, UVB, coal tar, radiation therapy, methotrexate,etc are at higher risk to develop skin cancer.
  • Any "live" vaccine taken while you are being treated with cyclosporine will not be effective.
  • There are many other medicines like vitamins, minerals, etc. which can cause serious medical problems if you take them together with cyclosporine.
  • Do not start using any new medication without informing your doctor. Safest way is to keep a list of all the medicines you use and show this list to the doctor.
  • Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice.

Adverse effects of CyclophosphamideAdverse effects of CyclosporineAdverse effects of Methotrexate

© 2008 Dr. Rajesh Shah. All rights reserved.

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