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Avonex® is a medication doctors prescribe to treat patients who have multiple sclerosis, a chronic, debilitating disease. This medication is in the family of beta interferon, which is a protein naturally present in a person’s body. Proteins that are in the interferon family help the body fight infections that develop because of viruses. Avonex® serves a similar purpose when used as medical therapy for patients who have multiple sclerosis. Unfortunately, this medication cannot cure multiple sclerosis, but it can help slow its progress and decrease the frequency with which a patient may suffer a relapse.
Avonex® is typically used to treat relapsing multiple sclerosis, which is marked by scarring or lesions in the central nervous system. This chronic medical condition causes a wide range of symptoms, including visual changes, the loss of muscle strength, and pain. A person with this condition may also experience balance and coordination difficulties, fatigue, and altered moods. Sexual dysfunction and cognitive changes may result as well.
Unfortunately, scientists have not found a cure for multiple sclerosis, and doctors usually focus on treating it with medications such as Avonex®. This drug is used as a once-per-week medication that helps reduce relapses of multiple sclerosis symptoms and slows the rate at which the condition progresses. It is said to work after a patient has an initial multiple sclerosis attack, and it helps reduce lesions and shrinkage of the brain.
Avonex® is usually administered in injection form by a doctor or other medical professional. The medication typically comes in pre-filled syringes that contain a powder mixed with a liquid solution. Each syringe is used once, then discarded. After the initial injection at at physician's office, patients usually can inject themselves or have a friend or family member inject the medications at home. The medication typically is injected into the patients thigh or upper arm, but a doctor or pharmacist can provide instruction on the proper injection method and placement.
Though many people find it an effective multiple sclerosis treatment, the medication can cause side effects in some cases. Among the side effects it may cause are depression and anxiety, vulnerability to bleeding and bruising, painful urination, and flu-like symptoms. A person who is on this medication may also experience numbness and tingling that affects his extremities, nausea, loss of appetite, or yellowing of the whites of his eyes and skull. Such side effects as convulsions and darker-than-normal urine may develop as well.