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Trying to decide if I should stop Humira due to one infection after another

I have been on Humira for the past 18 months. This is in addition to 150 mg of Imuran daily. Although I have seen some improvement in my symptoms, it has not been the wonder drug for me that it has for some. My last colonoscopy still showed inflammation and friable tissue with lots of bleeding, although it was much improved from the year prior. (Still had lots of inflammation and bleeding after being on Humira and Imuran for a little over a year.) Within 3 months of starting the Humira, I caught a cold that turned into a severe sinus infection that took nearly 3 months and multiple rounds of antibiotics to get rid of. Since starting Humira, I have had multiple infections, everything from sinus infections to bronchitis to UTI, etc, that's not even counting all the yeast infections. I have had to be treated with antibiotics for 6 infections in the last year. Currently I am battling another sinus infection and have just broken out with shingles. This is my ninth (that's right, ninth) bout of shingles since 2003, when I started Imuran. I have missed my last 3 Humira injections because of all these infections. I lost my spleen in 2003 due to another autoimmune blood condition, so all these infections concern me greatly since the spleen is such a major player in the immune system. I am so frustrated right now. I feel like I am getting no direction from my medical professionals. My GP says that Humira use scares her. My GI says he will leave it up to me wheter to continue it, but seems really indifferent about it. I see my hematologist next week and will ask for guidance from her. I am really at my wits end about whether to stop the Humira or continue it. All these infections are wearing me out. I really don't know what drugs to turn to either. I have tried prednisone, flagyl, Asacol, Remicade, rowasa enemas, you name it. I've just about exhausted any pharmaceutical routes. Any thoughts, suggestions, recommendations, etc. would really help me. I am so mentally and physically tired. Thanks:sign0085:!
It isn't necessarily the Humira. Both Humira and Imuran have immunosuppressant effects, and you are likely already partially compromised due to the disease. Prednisone won't help with the infections. Your doc may want to take you off the Imuran first to see how you respond.


Staff member
Hi KYGirl! :)

I only took Humira for about 3-4 months and had to stop because I kept getting upper respiratory infections after each injection. For some people it can cause them to get sick over and over and over. To me it sounds like its not doing what its supposed to be doing and is causing more harm than good. Some of us are just unlucky when it comes to Humira. It was great for my minor symptoms I was having but just kept getting me sick. In my opinion it is the Humira that's making you sick.

"The most common side effects of Humira are upper respiratory tract infection, increased cough, headache, rash, urinary tract infection, weakness, injection site pain, injection site reactions, nausea and diarrhoea." http://www.humira.co.nz/important-know-you-start

For me I'll be starting Remicade as its easier to control the dose with that then Humira but I see you've already tried that one. I'm told that if Remicade doesn't work for me then I'll likely have to try Cimzia, don't know if you've tried that yet. You may want to look into Enteral nutrition http://www.crohnsforum.com/wiki/Enteral-nutrition which has shown to be just as effective as steroids for some people and also look into Low Dose Naltrexone http://www.crohnsforum.com/wiki/Low-Dose-Naltrexone. I haven't tried any of these three yet but I hear them mentioned on the forum very often.

I think the EN might be worth a shot because gut rest has shown to be beneficial. I know when I was bleeding a lot as a child and the doctors were running test after test all I had was an IV and was not allowed any food or liquids for a few weeks then was only allowed a liquid diet for another two months while I was in the hospital. My bleeding did stop and I was not on any medication because I was still undiagnosed. Gut rest or bowel rest allows your body to try and heal naturally with no interruption from food that may further irritate an already irritated bowel. Its not something you can do permanently but may help get the bleeding under control while you and your GI find something else that may work.

"Nutrition. Your doctor may recommend a special diet given via a feeding tube (enteral nutrition) or nutrients injected into a vein (parenteral nutrition) to treat your Crohn's disease. This can improve your overall nutrition and allow the bowel to rest. Bowel rest can reduce inflammation in the short term. However, once regular feeding is restarted, your signs and symptoms may return. Your doctor may use nutrition therapy short term and combine it with other medications, such as immune system suppressors. Enteral and parenteral nutrition are typically used to get people healthier for surgery or when other medications fail to control symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend a low residue or low-fiber diet if you have a narrowed bowel (stricture) to try to reduce the risk of a blockage. A low residue diet is one that's designed to reduce the size and number of your stools." http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/crohns-disease/DS00104/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs <--- This link also shares other medications/treatments that you may not have tried yet. :)