Arava Side Effects

Although most people do not experience any problems while using Arava, side effects are possible. Some of the most commonly reported reactions include diarrhea, nausea, and headaches. In some cases, reactions to this drug can be potentially dangerous. Report any signs of breathing problems, chest pain, or other potentially serious problems to your healthcare provider right away.

An Introduction to Arava Side Effects

Just like any medicine, Arava® (leflunomide) can cause side effects. However, not everyone who uses the medication will have problems. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are treated easily by you or your healthcare provider.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with Arava. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list with you.)

Common Side Effects of Arava

Arava has been studied extensively in clinical trials. In these studies, the side effects that occurred in a group of people taking Arava were documented and then compared to the side effects that occurred in a similar group of people taking either a placebo (a "sugar pill" that does not contain any active ingredients) or other medicines used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
In these studies, the most common Arava side effects included:
  • Diarrhea -- in up to 27 percent of people
  • Respiratory infections -- up to 21 percent
  • Nausea -- up to 13 percent
  • Headaches -- up to 13 percent
  • A rash -- up to 12 percent
  • Indigestion or heartburn -- up to 10 percent
  • Elevated liver enzymes (found using a standard blood test) -- up to 10 percent
  • Increased blood pressure (hypertension) -- up to 10 percent
  • Hair loss (alopecia) -- up to 10 percent.
Other common side effects, occurring in 1 to 5 percent of people, included:
  • Back pain
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Infections, including urinary tract infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, and sinus infections
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Joint problems, such as joint inflammation and pain
  • Dizziness
  • Increased coughing
  • A sore throat
  • A stuffy nose
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Decreased appetite
  • Skin reactions, such as a rash, itching, and dry skin
  • Irritation and inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract ("stomach flu")
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Vomiting
  • Tingling, pricking, or numbness of the skin
  • Chest pain
  • A decrease in blood potassium levels (hypokalemia)
  • Leg cramps.
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Arava Medication Information

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