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What should I know before taking tumor necrosis factor inhibitors?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Your doctor will need to check your liver function and test for tuberculosis and hepatitis B before you start treatment.

If you have a blood disease, a TNF inhibitor may not be a good option for you.

TNF inhibitors may cause or worsen demyelinating disease, such as multiple sclerosis and Guillain-Barre syndrome.

If you have had cancer, a TNF inhibitor may not be a good option for you.

TNF inhibitors can make a person susceptible to TB infection or reactivate a past TB infection.

TNF inhibitors may worsen heart failure.

If you have an active infection, you should not take a TNF inhibitor. 

TNF inhibitors may not be good options for you if you are pregnant, may be pregnant, or are planning a pregnancy. It is not known if they are safe for pregnant women. It is also not known if it is safe to be vaccinated with a live vaccine while pregnant and taking a TNF inhibitor.

If you are breastfeeding, TNF inhibitors may not be good options for you. It is not known if these drugs can be passed into breast milk.

Etanercept may cause excessive lowering of blood sugar in people being treated for diabetes.

If you have alcoholic hepatitis, etanercept may not be a good option for you. 

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.