Should I Take a DMARD for My Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)

These are common rheumatoid arthritis medications. They relieve painful, swollen joints and slow joint damage; and several DMARDs may be used over the course of the disease. They take a few weeks or months to have an effect, and may produce significant improvements for many patients. Exactly how they work is still unknown.
 
Side effects vary with each medicine. DMARDs may increase the risk of infections, hair loss, and kidney or liver damage. By having a healthcare provider monitor the medication progress, the risks of toxicities can be weighed against the potential benefits of individual medications.
 
Various DMARDs used for rheumatoid arthritis include:
 
 
Azathioprine
This medication was first used in higher doses in cancer chemotherapy and organ transplantation. It is used in patients who have not responded to other medications and in combination therapy.
 
Side effects can include: cough or hoarseness, fever or chills, loss of appetite, lower back or side pain, nausea or vomiting, painful or difficult urination, and unusual tiredness or weakness.
 
Before taking this medication, tell your healthcare provider if you use allopurinol or have kidney or liver disease. This medication can reduce your ability to fight infections, so call your healthcare provider immediately if you develop chills, fever, or a cough. Regular blood and liver function tests are needed.
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