How Do Immunosuppressive Drugs Affect My Risk For Swine Flu Complications?

Question: I am on a medicine that makes my immune system weak. Does this increase my risk of getting swine flu, and if so, will my symptoms be worse?

Answer: There are several medications that your doctors might prescribe that might suppress your immune system. Prednisone is a common example. Other examples are medications that you would take for rheumatoid arthritis such as Enbrel.

Also, people who have had organ transplants are on medications to suppress their immune system. If you're on one of these medications, you are possibly more susceptible to getting swine flu or regular seasonal influenza. And if you should contract it, you are at higher risk of having more severe disease.

So, if you're on one of these medications you should take good precautions to avoid getting influenza or swine flu. This would include frequent hand washing, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and avoiding people that you know to be ill, such as family members or other friends in social gatherings.

If you are in contact with somebody who is diagnosed as having the flu or swine flu, you should contact your physicians for there are some medications including Tamiflu and Relenza that you could take to prevent yourself from getting sick during a short period after that contact.

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