Navigating the Potential Side Effects of Gilenya: What You Need to Know 

Gilenya Side Effects Blog

Before we begin the “meat and potatoes” of this blog covering Gilenya side effects, we felt it important to give our readers an easy-to-reference list for quick study. Here is the complete list from the Gilenya Website:  

General, or less severe, side effects, which may not be experienced by all patients, include;  

  • Headache 
  • Abnormal liver tests 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Cough 
  • Flu 
  • Sinusitis 
  • Back Pain  
  • Abdominal Pain 
  • Pain in arms or legs  

Serious Side Effects, although much less common, may include;  

  • Slowed heart rate 
  • Harm to unborn babies—it’s important to use an effective form of birth control and to call your health care professional as soon as possible if you become pregnant while on Gilenya or within 2 months of stopping Gilenya 
  • Increased risk of serious, life-threatening infections, including progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a rare brain infection 
  • Vision problems 
  • Swelling and narrowing of the blood vessels in your brain 
  • Liver damage 
  • Breathing problems 
  • Severe worsening of MS symptoms after stopping Gilenya 
  • Increases in blood pressure 
  • Certain types of skin cancer 


Now, let’s dive into what these side effects are and what they could mean for you if you are taking Gilenya. Gilenya (Fingolimod) has been a game-changer in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS), offering a convenient oral option for patients with relapsing forms of the disease. While Gilenya has shown significant efficacy in reducing relapse rates and delaying disability progression, like all medications, it comes with potential risks and side effects that patients and healthcare providers need to be aware of. In this article, we’ll explore the common and serious side effects associated with Gilenya and discuss how to manage them effectively. 

  • Headache: Headaches are a common side effect of Gilenya and are typically mild to moderate in severity. They often improve over time as the body adjusts to the medication. 
  • Liver Enzyme Elevations: Gilenya can cause elevations in liver enzymes, which are typically detected through blood tests. These elevations are usually mild and reversible. 
  • Diarrhea: Some patients may experience diarrhea as a side effect of Gilenya. Staying hydrated and eating a healthy diet can help manage this symptom. 
  • Cough: A persistent cough is another possible side effect of Gilenya. If the cough is bothersome or does not improve, it’s important to discuss it with your healthcare provider. 
  • Back Pain: Back pain can occur in some patients taking Gilenya. It is usually mild and temporary. 
  • Flu-like Symptoms: Symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, and fatigue may occur, resembling flu-like symptoms. 
  • Sinusitis: Inflammation or swelling of the sinuses may occur, leading to symptoms such as facial pain, nasal congestion, and sinus pressure. 
  • Abdominal Pain: Some individuals may experience abdominal discomfort or pain while taking Gilenya. 
  • Pain in Arms or Legs: Pain or discomfort in the arms or legs may occur as a side effect of Gilenya treatment. 

These side effects are generally mild to moderate in nature and may improve over time or with appropriate management. However, if you experience any persistent or severe side effects while taking Gilenya, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider for further evaluation and guidance. 


Serious Side Effects 

  • Bradyarrhythmia and Atrioventricular Block: One of the most serious side effects of Gilenya is the potential for slowing of the heart rate, known as bradyarrhythmia, or atrioventricular block. This can occur when starting Gilenya treatment and requires close monitoring, especially in the first few hours after the first dose. 
  • Macular Edema: Gilenya has been associated with the development of macular edema, a condition that causes swelling in the eye’s macula. This can lead to vision problems and requires prompt medical attention. 
  • Infections: Gilenya can increase the risk of infections, including serious infections such as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), which is a rare but serious brain infection. 
  • Respiratory Effects: Some patients may experience respiratory effects, including shortness of breath or a tight feeling in the chest, while taking Gilenya.

Managing Side Effects 

It’s essential to communicate openly with your healthcare provider about any side effects you may experience while taking Gilenya. Your healthcare provider may be able to recommend strategies to manage these side effects or adjust your treatment plan if necessary. Additionally, it’s important to attend all recommended medical appointments and undergo any necessary monitoring tests to ensure your safety while taking Gilenya. 

In conclusion, while Gilenya has been a valuable addition to the treatment options for MS, it’s essential to be aware of the potential side effects associated with this medication. By staying informed and working closely with your healthcare provider, you can minimize the risks and maximize the benefits of Gilenya in managing your MS. If you would like more information or to apply for Gilenya Copay Assistance click the hyperlink on those words.  

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