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DNase (Dornase Alfa) for Cystic Fibrosis

Examples

Generic Name Brand Name
dornase alfa Pulmozyme

How It Works

The body's immune system uses white blood cells to fight infection. These cells release chemicals that kill both bacteria and surrounding normal cells. After attacking the bacteria, the white blood cells die, adding to the thickness of the mucus and damaging the lungs of people who have cystic fibrosis. Dornase alfa (DNase) helps liquefy and thin mucus by clearing out DNA from the dead white blood cells.

DNase is given through a nebulizer and is inhaled into the lungs.

Why It Is Used

DNase is used to thin and liquefy mucus in the lungs of children and adults with cystic fibrosis who have lung problems.

How Well It Works

DNase thins mucus so it can be coughed up more easily. It improves breathing and reduces the chance of infection.

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call911or other emergency services right away if you have:

Call your doctor if you have:

Common side effects of this medicine include:

The long-term effects of this drug are not yet known.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

DNase must be used regularly for it to work well.

Do not use DNase solution if it is cloudy or discolored.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Susanna McColley, MD - Pediatric Pulmonology
Last Revised May 14, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 14, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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