Monday, July 21, 2008 mary francisco, Community Member, asks

Q: should a person using humira work in a school where there is a lot of interaction with children

i have ankylosing spondylitis and am taking humira,i am in a lot of pain would like to know about restrictions.

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Answers (3)
Lene Andersen, Health Guide
7/22/08 12:55pm

I'm assuming you question relates to how Humira suppresses your immune system and the subsequent increased infection risk? If I misunderstood your question, please feel free to correct me.


When you first start taking the big drugs that have equally big side effects, it can be quite scary. The suppressed immune system is especially worrying in the beginning - the first time I took a drug that had that effect, one of things I worried it about was whether I should wear a mask when I was out in public (not necessary, it turns out). Over time, you will get a better sense of what areas of your body are sensitive to infection and which aren't, but they are a few generalities that I can tell you about. An ncreased likelihood of developing upper respiratory tract infections (sinus infections) is quite common and you may be more susceptible to colds and flus. However, the goal of these medications is to help you get back to normal as much as possible and normal does include interacting with other people. You will develop your own methods of managing the infection risk in ways that make sense in your life, but it's a good idea to include frequent handwashing, being very clean in the kitchen and keeping your body as healthy as possible by eating a well-balanced diet, taking vitamin supplements and, if you can, exercising. Whenever possible, you can also try to stay away from people who are in the infectious stage of colds and flus - my family and friends know that although I love them, if they're sick, I don't want to see them. Staying away from infection risk in your personal life is easier than in your work life and if you work in a school, it's even more difficult - children tend to be walking germ factories. Carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer may help reduce how many germs make it from the kids onto you and getting an annual flu vaccine would probably also be a good idea.

What are the questions you can ask yourself is how many times you got sick from being around kids before you started Humira. You may end up having approximately the same amount of illnesses or maybe even less. In my experience, although taking these drugs has meant having more sinus infections than I did before, in other ways, I feel much healthier - not just in terms of the effect it has on my RA, but general health. This includes illnesses. I believe that it is due to a combination of actually being healthier than I was before I started taking Humira and the extra care I take around other people (this is where the hand sanitizer can come in handy). I'd recommend that you talk to your doctor about your concerns, specifically about working in a school. S/he may be able to reassure you, as well as give you some additional tips on managing the infection risk.


Good luck! I hope the Humira works as well for you as it has for me.


jane, Community Member
8/ 7/08 2:42pm

I am a teacher and I took Humira and am now taking rituxan.  I have found no problems that are not normal for me.  I haven't gotten any more illnesses than before the meds.  I hope you have the same result. 

catherine lumley, Community Member
3/28/09 4:56pm

hi i have ra and take humira, i worked in a school and had to give it up as i was catching everything going, i once goe a small cold that caused me to pass out and ended up with bhroncitus

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By mary francisco, Community Member— Last Modified: 06/20/12, First Published: 07/21/08