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What are Interferons?

Interferons, also known as IFNs, are proteins that naturally occur in the body, and which are secreted by immune system cells such as white blood cells, fibroblasts, epithelial cells and more. There are three overall types of interferons -- alpha, beta and gamma. From there, the groups are broken down further into subcategories, including interferon alfa 2a, interferon alfa 2b, interferon beta 1a, interferon beta 1b, interferon beta alfacon 1 and more.

Interferons are injected subcutaneously (under the skin) as prescribed by a doctor.

Uses for Interferons

Specific interferons are used to treat a host of conditions, including multiple sclerosis, hairy cell leukemia, AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma, chronic myelogenous leukemia, chronic hepatitis B and C, malignant melanoma, genital and perianal warts (caused by HPV), severe, malignant osteopetrosis and more.

To categorize, interferon alphas are used to treat viral infections and cancers, interferon betas for MS, and interferon gammas for chronic granulomatous disease.

Possible Side Effects of Interferons

Interferons can cause side effects like fever, chills, headache, muscle pain and malaise, particularly in the early stages of treatment. Damage to the tissue around the injection site may also occur. Depending on dosage, additional side effects like fatigue, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, joint aches, back and abdominal pain and more may also occur.

Serious side effects include anorexia, increased heart rate, blood cell and platelet disruption, hair thinning, swelling, difficulty breathing, thoughts of suicide, depression and more. Talk to a doctor immediately if you begin to show any of the symptoms listed here or any other abnormal behaviors.

Warnings About Interferons

The information listed here regarding Interferons is for reference purposes only, and should not be used in place of medical advice. Always consult a doctor before introducing a new medication into your health regimen for correct dosage and treatment information, proper monitoring and further side effects or possible interactions with other medications.

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