Biologics and secondary diseases: Does anyone know... - NRAS


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Biologics and secondary diseases


Does anyone know whether there has been any research into whether biological drugs actually result in bronchiectasis or Sjogrens syndrome. I developed Rheumatoid disease in 1986 and was treated with gold injections until 2007, I then started Enbrel and then developed both Bronchiectasis and Sjogrens. Before then I had never had any lung problems at all but now seem to live on antibiotics (3 chest infections between dec and now).

15 Replies

I have Bronchiectasis and Sjogren's fossil321. Sjogren's is secondary to RA and I've never had gold injections or Embrel. Hope these links help.

I have been diagnosed with RA for 2 years and have recently been diagnosed with bronchiectasis.

I have had chest problems for many years.

I was told it’s possibly been caused by RA medication but need to continue them.

Both bronchiectasis and Sjorgens are diseases that are more common in people with RA, no matter what treatment you are on. And also get more common as you get older.

Biologics do cause a very small increase in the rate of infections, and if you have bronchiectasis you are also more vulnerable to lung infections in particular. So you do need to be doubly careful.

I hope you've talked to your doctors about this, and about how you can best ensure minimal infections from now on.

Looking at your profile I see that two years back a chest infection you had turned into sepsis. Do you still take enbrel or has it been stopped?

I ask because I had sepsis while on enbrel three years ago. Apparently a bug from a recent urinary tract infection got into my bloodstream causing septic arthritis of my right hip. The orthopaedic consultant at the time reckoned enbrel was the main reason why the UTI bug managed to access my bloodstream and told me not to take it anymore.

Recently been to see an immunologist to find out if it's ok to start meds again (just taking hydroxy at the mo) as my rheumy is concerned about joint deterioration, plus the sepsis risk as I have a chronic bladder condition so prone to recurring UTIs. He asked me about the previous septic hip episode and said that as it was just a one off there's no way to be sure that enbrel was at fault and I could have had sepsis whether on meds or not. Great minds don't always think alike by the seem! it looks like it's toss a coin time for me!?........

Anyway, after talking with the immunologist I have decided, albeit reluctantly, to start taking meds again. The sepsis risk remains a major concern, but it's either that or carry on putting up with the constant debilitating pain from my RA and further damage to my joints, and even more my lungs which have already been scarred by inflammation from my RA.

There's so many variables and uncertainties with both the disease and meds that it's like walking through a minefield for some of us unfortunates, especially those with complications, and it's often a matter of pot luck how things turn out........


I agree...I'm afraid that patients are not created equal. We all have a set of different predisposition as to one's own drug response based on our DNAs, hence the advancement of "personal approach/therapy" rather than "standard" therapies. As far as I get to understand, some people end up with some cancer, something I will need to remember when deciding what to accept and what to decline. I'm not known to be very UN-lucky. I don't want to be told, "oh well, you know other patients do well on this, but are just so unlucky...shame, but this could happen to unlucky patients." etc.

I have been an antibiotic rescue pack if I develop symptoms of a chest infection.

I have RA and my blood was sent to London as I have Cylindrical Brochectastsis which is genetic. I'm thinking about prophalctic antibiotics. I've been told was born with it but it was not a problem until eighteen months ago when a bad bout of pnumonia set it off to cause problems. It really is not a bother to me now I know why I cough especially when its dry and to take care around people with bugs. I had a CT scan quite quickly and very good care from the local hospital and coughing lessons too. I kid you not I learnt how to cough after 60 odd years!!! but it did help. lol x

I have bronchiectasis. The specialist said it was caused by the dreadful measles and whooping cough I had as a child.I was diagnosed before taking Enbrel injects.My mother had it too.She didn't have RA,and was never on anti TNF's. Whether they can cause it too,I don't know? Hope you can get answers. Good luck. x

Ive had RA about 4 yrs (seems for ever !!) and have been on biologics for about 2 yrs - Orencia I like you have had 3 chest infections this winter - 3 lots of antibiotics my Dr said it was the RA and Methotrexate and I need to be careful !! how ? What is Sjogrens disease ? x

keeta in reply to lornaisobel

I also had a lung problem for 12 months .and it cleared up when i stopped taking methotrexate.x

Yes I too had good lung function but after tsking methotrexate for a few months got pneminia. The physicia at hospital said it appeared tobe methotrexate induced. J stopped mtx. I now tske Irencia and have been so far fred from pneumonia, though I obviously still have bronchectasis. Most if tgese drugs have their side effects

My husband has just come out of hospital after developing infection on one lung, he was put on oxygen and intravenous antibiotics, his breathing has got worse in the last year, is it the methotrexate, hydrox, steroids?? All I know is since taking these drugs for his RA his breathing has worsened so what do we do? He has hospital appt Monday to see about injections as the methotrexate is t working but if he stops will his breathing get better? No one seems to know what to do and they’re Doctor,can anyone help please.x


Hi fossil321, my husband got it the other way round - he had bronchiectasis from the age of two years and had many chest infections and pneumonia attacks all his life - his middle name is "Penicillin" because he would have died years ago without it, but he never had anything wrong with his joints. Then at 68 years old, huge lumps formed on his wrists and hands and he could no longer walk - it was very aggressive RA. All the very inadequate medical people can tell us is there is a relationship between the two things, but which causes which is a mystery to them. I suspect them of having been to medical school years ago and never having learnt anything new since, myself. There must be some Research going on somewhere and I will look into it. If I find anything out I will let you know!

Thank you all for your replies, it appears that we don't know the answer but I have to admit without Enbrel I can't function so I suppose I will have to continue with the biologics!!!!

Good Morning

I have been on Enbrel for many years (over 10) and get a chest infection on average once a year. But this year was different after catching a mild dose of flu from my other half. It has left me with a cough for almost 4 months now. I have had a chest xray which was clear and a blood test for heart failure which was also ok. So I go back to GP soon as treatment for Gerd and nasal sprays do not seem to make any difference. So I do think Enbrel is the reason I am still coughing and like you I cannot function without it.

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