Arava, its generic name, leflunomide, is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and heal joint damage. It is specifically used to reduce swelling or inflammation in the body, and influences the immune system. Doctors will prescribe this medication according to the condition and how severe it is.
How it Works
The active ingredient in Arava, leflunomide, works to block the production of white blood cells via rapid cell division. Rapid production of white blood cells is what causes joint inflammation, which is characteristic of conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
The main use for this drug is to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It has been found to largely relieve symptoms associated with the disease as well as slow its progression. It may also be prescribed for psoriatic arthritis and for preventing the rejection of an organ after transplant.
The dosage that is normally prescribed based on an assessment of the patient’s precise condition and risk factors that may be involved. Patients at lower risk for developing hepatotoxicity or myelosuppression, the initial dosage is 100mg daily for three days, and then 20mg once a day.
For patients who are a higher risk for developing these conditions, the recommended dosage is only 20mg. The dosage may be changed by the doctor based on the reaction to initial doses.
It is best to be aware of some of the most common side effects that you may or may not experience. While some of these are severe, most are quite mild. Some of the common mild effects you may experience are:
If you notice any of the indications, they should pass in time, but if they remain for an extended period, it is best to contact your physician. Seek immediate medical help if you experience a more severe effect.
Some potential severe effects that you may notice are:
Cloudy or bloody urine
Painful or difficult breathing
Difficult or painful urination
Loss of appetite
Nausea or vomiting
There is a probability that patients taking Arava will develop a severe liver problem. It is always advised to discuss with your doctor any previous conditions and medications you are taking or have taken. This is important because some drugs and conditions can have bad reactions to Arava when it is taken.
Be sure to tell your doctor if you have had allergies, liver or kidney problems, infections, nerve problems, tuberculosis, weakened immunity, or a bone marrow disorder. Also disclose if you have had to take drugs that weaken the immune system (like chemotherapy treatment or steroids).
Make sure that you take the drug only according to the doctor’s recommendation. Your doctor will have to monitor your blood pressure and urine over the course of the drug’s consumption.
If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, stop using this drug or wait until you finish taking the full course before you get pregnant. You will need to go through a drug elimination procedure for your body to get rid of the leflunomide. It is not yet known if this medicine passes through breast milk, so avoid breastfeeding if this drug is in your system.
Follow the directions for taking this medication carefully and store the drug at room temperature in an area away from heat, light, and moisture. If you miss a dose, take it when you remember, but skip the dose if it is already almost time for the next one. Seek medical attention if you feel that you have taken too much.