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Medically Approved

How long does it take for Humira to work?

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How soon it worksFactors that affect efficacyTaking other medsAlternative medsSummary
Humira may ease symptoms within a few weeks of starting treatment, but individual response times may vary, and several factors can affect how well the drug works.
Medically reviewed by Ami Patel PharmD, BCPS
Written by Rashida Ruwa, RN
Updated on

Humira belongs to a group of drugs called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers that target and inhibit a protein in the body called TNF-alpha. This helps lower inflammation. Its generic name is adalimumab.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Humira for several conditions, including:

  • rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • psoriatic arthritis
  • ankylosing spondylitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • ulcerative colitis

Healthcare professionals may also prescribe Humira off label to treat other autoimmune or inflammatory conditions, such as Behcet disease, sarcoidosis, and pemphigus. Off-label use refers to using a medication for a condition or in a dosage not specifically approved by the FDA. 

Other brand names for adalimumab are:

  • Hyrimoz
  • Hulio
  • Idacio
  • Cyltezo

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How soon does Humira work?

Woman stretching after experiencing Humira benefits soon after taking it
Nick David/Getty Images

Humira may offer symptom relief within a few weeks of starting treatment. The time it takes to experience results may differ from person to person, though. Some people may feel the full therapeutic effects within a few days, while others do so up to 12 weeks after they start on the medication.

The half-life for adalimumab (Humira) is around 2 weeks. This refers to the time it takes for the drug in your blood or body to be reduced or eliminated by half. Knowing the half-life of a drug helps estimate how long it remains active in your system.

Consistent and continued treatment with Humira may help lower pain, stiffness, and inflammation. But this depends on the severity of the condition and symptoms.

Joint-related symptoms are more likely to ease sooner with Humira, but it’s important to follow the prescribed medication regimen for long-term benefits.

While the response to Humira may vary, studies have shown its efficacy in easing symptoms associated with the conditions it treats.

Which factors may affect Humira’s efficacy? 

Several factors can affect how effective Humira is, including:

  • Disease type and severity: Humira may be more or less effective depending on the condition type or severity. It may take longer to see noticeable improvements in severe cases.
  • Individual response: Each person’s response to medication is unique. While many people may find Humira effective, some may develop antibodies to the drug, which lowers the efficacy and requires a higher dosage or alternative treatment options.
  • Dosage: Humira dosages vary depending on your weight, condition, and symptom severity. Following the recommended dosing schedule is important for effective results. Missing doses or changing the prescribed regimen may affect its effectiveness.
  • Concurrent medications: Certain medications may interact with Humira, affecting its efficacy and increasing the likelihood of side effects. So informing a healthcare professional about your recent medications and supplements is important.
  • Lifestyle factors: Lifestyle choices, such as tobacco use or too much alcohol consumption, may affect the response to Humira. These factors can influence the body’s ability to heal and respond to treatment. 

Can you take Humira with other medications?

Yes, you can take Humira with other medications, including over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription pain relievers. But certain pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may increase the risk of side effects, like stomach ulcers and bleeding.

Plus, combining corticosteroids or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) with Humira requires careful consideration. They may weaken the immune system, increasing the risk of infections and other adverse effects.

So it’s important to inform a healthcare professional of any medications you’re currently taking, whether they’re OTC, prescribed, or supplements, to avoid any potential interactions.

Alternative medications to Humira

If Humira doesn’t work for your symptoms, a doctor may prescribe alternative medications.

For rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Alternative medications may include other DMARDs, such as:

These medications suppress the immune system and lower inflammation to help ease RA symptoms. They can be used alone (monotherapy) or in combination with other medications to manage the condition more effectively.

For psoriatic arthritis

Similar to RA, healthcare professionals may consider DMARDs as alternative treatments for psoriatic arthritis. 

Non-biologic targeted immunomodulators, such as apremilast (Otezla), may help reduce inflammation and manage symptoms.

For ulcerative colitis

Alternative medications may include other classes of drugs, such as aminosalicylates like mesalamine (Apriso) or corticosteroids like prednisone (Prelone), which help reduce inflammation in the colon.

Healthcare professionals may also consider immunomodulators like azathioprine (Imuran) and mercaptopurine (Purinethol) to help manage symptoms and maintain remission.

For Crohn’s disease

Alternative medications may involve a similar approach to ulcerative colitis, using aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, immunomodulators, or biologic therapies. This depends on the severity and location of the disease. 

Doctors may consider biologic therapies like infliximab (Remicade) or vedolizumab (Entyvio) when other medications are not effective or well-tolerated.

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How soon Humira works may vary among people and the specific conditions. While some people may experience relief within a few weeks, sustained improvement may take several months of consistent use.

Consider working closely with a healthcare professional to monitor your progress and adjust your treatment plan if needed.

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