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Tofacitinib Side Effects

Clinical studies have shown that a majority of the people who take tofacitinib will develop some type of side effect. Some of the more commonly reported ones include diarrhea, headaches, and infections. There are also some reactions to this medication that can lead to potentially dangerous problems, such as perforation of the stomach, anemia, and allergic reactions.

An Introduction to Side Effects of Tofacitinib

Just like any medicine, tofacitinib (Xeljanz®) can cause side effects, some of which can be significant. Although not everyone who takes this medication will have problems, most people will experience some type of side effect during treatment. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to prevent or lessen reactions to this medicine.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with tofacitinib. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list with you.)

Serious Tofacitinib Side Effects

Some side effects of tofacitinib are potentially serious and should be reported immediately to your healthcare provider. These include but are not limited to:
  • Signs or symptoms of any type of infection, such as:
    • Fever, sweating, or chills
    • Muscle aches
    • Cough or shortness of breath
    • Bloody phlegm
    • Weight loss
    • Warm, red, or tender sores
    • Diarrhea
    • Abdominal (stomach) pain
    • Burning or frequent urination
    • Fatigue
  • Signs or symptoms of a perforation of the stomach or intestine, such as:
    • Fever
    • Digestive pain that does not go away
    • Unexplained changes in bowel habits
  • Low red blood cells, which can result in anemia
  • Low white blood cells, which can result in infections
  • Increased liver enzymes (found using a blood test)
  • Signs of hepatitis B or C activation (for people who are carriers of these viruses), such as:
    • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes or skin (jaundice)
    • Loss of appetite
    • Vomiting
    • Clay-colored stools
    • Dark urine
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, such as:
    • An unexplained rash
    • Hives
    • Itching
    • Unexplained swelling, especially of the mouth, lips, or throat
    • Wheezing
    • Difficulty breathing or swallowing.
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