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Anakinra is a drug prescribed to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. Although it helps alleviate pain, inflammation, and redness, it is not a cure for this disease. This type of medication is called an interleukin antagonist, and works by interfering with a protein, called interleukin, that leads to damage of the joints. Patients inject it using prefilled syringes, as it is not available in pill form.
This arthritis drug is typically given once daily, at the same time each day, injected into either the stomach or the outer thigh. If another person is administering it, he may inject it into the buttocks or the back of the arms. Before administering anakinra, the patient should examine the syringe. If the contents appear foamy, he should allow the syringe to sit until it clears. Medication in syringes that appears cloudy, discolored, or as if something is floating within it should never be used.
The doctor should demonstrate how to properly inject the anakinra. First, the patient must cleanse the area of skin with an alcohol swab and allow it to dry. The cover of the needle may be removed by twisting and pulling it. It is essential that the patient not touch the needle or allow it to touch anything else.
To inject anakinra, the patient should grasp the syringe with one hand and pinch up the cleansed area of skin. This section of skin should be away from any visible veins. The needle should be inserted nto the skin at least halfway, at about a 45 to 90 degree angle and should be administered with a quick motion.
After inserting the needle, the patient may release the fold of skin, keeping the needle inserted. He must then push down on the plunger to completely empty the contents of the syringe. After removing the needle, he may then apply a square of dry gauze to the skin, followed by a bandage. The syringe must be disposed of in a puncture-proof container.
Patients may expect some side effects from the use of anakinra, which may include stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea. Headache and a runny nose may also occur. In addition, redness, swelling, and pain at the injection site have been reported. Serious side effects from anakinra warrant a doctor's immediate attention. Symptoms such as a rash, fever, and chills are rare. Flu-like symptoms, chest pain, and coughing may occur infrequently.
Before using anakinra, patients should inform the prescribing physician about any other medication they take. This includes over-the-counter drugs, as well as herbal supplements. They should also disclose any other medical conditions they have. While using this drug, patients should not receive live vaccinations, unless otherwise directed by a doctor.