How will I feel after a Rituxan infusion?
Medically reviewed by N. France, BPharm. Last updated on May 11, 2020.
What to expect after a Rituxan infusion?
After a Rituxan (rituximab) infusion you may experience certain side effects or adverse reactions that make you feel unwell. Rituxan affects different people in different ways, but the more common side effects include:
- Fever (high temperature), muscle aches, headaches and chills, which are signs of infection.
- Bruising and bleeding, including nosebleeds or bleeding gums, as well as tiny red spots on your limbs called petechiae. These are signs that the number of platelets in your blood may have dropped.
- Fever, chills, nausea and vomiting, breathing difficulties and dizziness. These are signs of an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions are more common during your infusion, particularly your first one and medications can help to manage your symptoms. Allergy medications can make you dizzy or drowsy, so do not drive yourself home after your infusion.
- Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick or actually be sick because of your infusion. Anti-sickness medications, called antiemetics, can help to control your symptoms. Eating small meals and snacks, avoiding fatty and fried food, drinking plenty of water can also help.
- Hair loss (alopecia). You may lose your body hair, including eyelashes and eyebrows. Skin rashes, dry skin and itching are also common. Weakness or body fatigue, known as asthenia, and tiredness.
- Swelling, diarrhea, muscle spasms and depression.
Rituxan is used to treat a range of conditions and how a person feels after their infusion can be affected by the condition they are being treated for.
Infusion-related reactions are common in all groups and include symptoms such as itching, feeling light headed, swelling, difficulty breathing, an abnormal heartbeat, as well as other symptoms. The following adverse reactions are also common in particular patient groups including in patient with:
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL): fever, chills, infection, weakness, infection and lymphopenia.
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL): neutropenia.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): upper respiratory tract infection, nasopharyngitis (cold symptoms), urinary tract infection and bronchitis.
- Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) and microscopic polyangiitis (MPA): infections, nausea, diarrhea, headache, muscle spasms, anemia and peripheral edema (swelling).
- Pemphigus vulgaris (PV): depression.
Rituxan is a monoclonal antibody therapy that targets a protein called CD20. Rituxan is administered via an intravenous infusion, which involves administering the therapy through a needle placed in a vein in your arm.
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Rituxan. Highlights of Prescribing Information. [Accessed May 11, 2020]. Available online at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2020/103705Orig1s5458lbl.pdf.
- Cancer Research UK. Rituximab (Mabthera, Rixathon, Truxima). [Accessed May 11, 2020]. Available online at: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/cancer-drugs/drugs/rituximab.
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