How To Reduce Methotrexate
- To help the feeling of nausea, one of the more common side effects of methotrexate, it is recommended that methotrexate is taken after the evening meal so that nausea will therefore be less on waking. The most appropriate day for the individual needs to be considered;;
- Folic acid is important as explained above, but it also helps to reduce the nausea;;
- Anti-nausea medication may also help;;
- Stay safe on methotrexate and remember to have regular blood tests and check-ups as advised by your consultant and clinical nurse specialist;;
- Injected methotrexate can improve the side effects of taking tablets, so if you are experiencing side effects, ask about sub-cutaneous methotrexate;;
Methotrexate Initially Not A Drug For Ra
Although methotrexate has been proven as a great treatment option for RA, that isnt why this drug was created. In fact, methotrexate was initially introduced in the 1940s as a cancer treatment drug. Doctors prescribed it to provide relief for patients with different types of cancers, such as non-hodgkin lymphoma and breast cancer.
Methotrexate works by interfering with cancer cells ability to absorb and use folate. Folate is a form of vitamin B thats necessary for cell survival, but methotrexate has the effect of partially inhibiting dihydrofolate reductase within the cancerous cells.
Then in the 1970s, the Food and Drug Administration approved methotrexate for psoriasis according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. Psoriasis afflicts roughly 7.5 million people and involves itchy, inflamed skin. Fortunately for its sufferers, numerous studies have backed using methotrexate as a suitable psoriasis treatment option. For example, one 26-year retrospective study found that low-dose MTX is an effective therapy for severe forms of psoriasis.
Not only is methotrexate beneficial for people with psoriasis, its also helpful for those diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. This type of arthritis is different than RA in that psoriasis generally precedes issues in the joints. In some cases though, no psoriasis-type symptoms exist at all.
Other Warnings For Methotrexate
Methotrexate is associated with increased toxicity if taken with certain other medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , acid reflux medications, and some antibiotics. Such drug interactions may cause harmful toxicity, and possibly even death. Make sure your healthcare provider has a complete list of all medications that you take and discuss possible interactions with methotrexate.
Methotrexate should not be taken by people who have liver disease, significant kidney disease, alcoholism, blood disorders or a bone marrow disorder. Methotrexate should also not be used by women who are pregnant or who are breastfeeding. It also should be stopped by both women and men who are planning a pregnancy.
If you experience signs of an allergic reaction while taking methotrexate, seek emergency medical attention. Such signs would include hives, skin reactions, difficulty breathing, swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat. You should discontinue methotrexate and call your healthcare provider if you develop a dry cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, vomiting, white patches or sores inside your mouth, blood in urine or stool, rapid weight gain, decreased urine production, seizure, fever, chills, flu symptoms, weakness, lightheadedness, or any other unusual symptom.
Don’t Miss: Does Walking Help Knee Arthritis
Liver Disease Less Likely For Ra Patients Than Others
Because methotrexate is considered to be toxic for the liver, people with RA frequently worry about how taking the drug will affect this crucial organ.
Fortunately, people who take this drug for RA appear to have a lower risk for this than people who take it for some other conditions.
A population-based study published in February 2021 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology compared the incidence rate for liver disease among those taking MTX for psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and RA and found those with RA were 1 to 3 times less likely to have this problem.
Still, because of the potential for liver problems, regular alcohol use with methotrexate is not considered safe. People are encouraged to minimize if not avoid alcohol consumption, Tenpas says.
Summary Recommendations For Mtx Optimization
This review supports several recommendations for optimizing MTX therapy for patients with RA:
Administration of a high initial dose of MTX followed by rapid titration can improve the response to oral MTX and does not appear to compromise safety or tolerability.
Treatment with oral MTX, with appropriate dose titration, should be continued for at least 6 months to accurately assess clinical response .
Patients for whom MTX treatment fails because of intolerability or inadequate efficacy may be rescued by switching to subcutaneous MTX.
Consideration should also be given to starting with subcutaneous MTX given its favorable bioavailability and pharmacodynamic profile.
Starting patients on subcutaneous MTX or switching from oral to subcutaneous delivery is likely to improve treatment persistence.
If a patient is switched from oral to subcutaneous MTX, a concomitant dosage increase should be avoided. After the change in delivery route, the dose may be titrated as needed.
If a patient has tolerated MTX monotherapy but has not responded adequately, the patient may also be prescribed another agent. In such cases, the MTX dosage and route of administration used before treatment augmentation should be maintained, with titration as needed.
Don’t Miss: How Do You Know You Have Arthritis
What About Side Effects
Methotrexate can cause mouth ulcers in a few patients, in the beginning of treatment. This should go away with time. Another possible side effect is nausea and vomiting. Methotrexate can also cause hair thinning or hair loss.; In rare cases some people may develop lung problems. ;
Methotrexate can cause mild liver irritation. ;Please tell your doctor if you have a history of any alcohol abuse, hepatitis, yellow jaundice, or liver disease. While on methotrexate you should limit yourself to 2 alcoholic beverages per week. Blood work will be done every 4-12 weeks to check your liver function. This blood work will also include a complete blood count since methotrexate can also cause a decrease in blood counts.; This blood work is very important.; It allows the rheumatologist to make timely changes to your dose of methotrexate if there is ever problem.
Methotrexate is known to cause;birth defects;in the children of both men and women taking this drug. If you are pregnant considering having a child, or nursing, discuss this with your rheumatologist before beginning this medication. You must use an effective form of birth control while taking methotrexate and for at least 3 months after the methotrexate is stopped. ;Your rheumatologist or nurse can give you additional guidance.
How Long Will Methotrexate Take To Start Working
Its not immediate. Many RA patients will start to experience an improvement in symptoms after six to eight weeks on methotrexate, but it can take up to six months before you would reach the full benefits of taking the drug. If youre having a lot of debilitating RA symptoms, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids as a short-term treatment to tamp down your RA flares while the methotrexate starts kicking in.
Also Check: How To Relieve Arthritis Pain In Your Hands
Methotrexate For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that occurs when the immune system attacks healthy joints. Doctors may treat the resulting inflammation and pain with methotrexate, a drug that suppresses the immune system.
Since the 1940s, doctors have used methotrexate as a treatment for cancer. In the 1980s, scientists discovered that it could also help ease the pain and swelling of RA, as well as other symptoms of the condition. Three years later, the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug for this purpose, and it is now a first-line treatment for RA.
Methotrexate is a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug . This means that it is one of a group of drugs that changes the course of RA and can slow its effect on the joints.
In this article, we explore methotrexate for RA, including the average dosages and safety considerations.
The average dosage of oral methotrexate for RA starts at 7.510 milligrams weekly. This is equivalent to 3 or 4 pills taken once a week. If necessary, a doctor can raise the dosage to 25 mg per week or more, depending on what a person can tolerate. A 2017 review notes that methotrexate alone can significantly reduce the progression of RA at dosages of 7.525 mg per week .
A persons RA may respond better to a combination of methotrexate and another DMARD. Researchers have yet to determine conclusively whether a single-drug or a combined approach is more effective.
Can I Get Pregnant Or Breastfeed While Taking Methotrexate
Absolutely not. Methotrexate is toxic to a fetus and can cause congenital mutations, warns Dr. Feldman. Women should wait 90 days after stopping methotrexate to get pregnant. Men, too, should wait 90 days before trying to conceive because methotrexate may affect sperm . Do not breastfeed until the drug is completely out of your system. For more information about managing pregnancy with rheumatoid arthritis, check out our family planning patient guidelines.
Also Check: How Does Methotrexate Help Rheumatoid Arthritis
What Is The Right Dose To Start Methotrexate In Rheumatoid Arthritis
Varun Dhir1, Mandeep Singla2, Palvi Goyal2, Vinay Sagar2, Aman Sharma1 and Shefali K. Sharma2, 1Internal Medicine , Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India, 2Internal Medicine , Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
Session Type: Abstract Submissions
Background/Purpose: Recent recommendations have suggested higher starting doses of methotrexate, i.e. 15 mg/week in rheumatoid arthritis. However, studies comparing conventional and newer starting dose are limited. Unclear if any difference in control of disease activity or adverse effects with these starting doses.
Methods: This randomized controlled trial included 100 rheumatoid arthritis patients , having active disease and not on methotrexate ³ 3 months. Using random number tables, patients were allocated to two groups starting methotrexate at 7.5mg or 15 mg/week. Methotrexate escalated by 2.5 mg every 2 weeks; similar folic acid dose . Patients assessed 4 weekly for disease activity . In addition, minor adverse effects determined using a performa and major adverse effects determined using blood tests or CXR if required. Analysis by intention to treat; difference in disease activity, adverse effects compared using students t and chi-square test respectively .
Table 1: Frequency of minor adverse effects in the two groups
Minor adverse effect
How Methotrexate Works In The Body
Methotrexate was originally developed as a chemotherapy drug designed to kill fast-growing cancer cells, although it is important to note that arthritis and psoriasis patients take substantially lower doses than cancer patients.
Methotrexate keeps cells from dividing, says Dr. Huffstutter. When you have active rheumatoid arthritis, the fastest-growing cells are those in the immune system. Thats how it works to suppress the immune system in someone whose immune system is overactive. Were trying to downregulate it and make it more normal.
More specifically, methotrexate works by blocking some of the actions of the vitamin folic acid in the body. Thats an important part of how high doses of MTX work to thwart cancer, because folic acid is required to help cells divide and replicate.
Although the most commonly reported side effects of methotrexate are fatigue, nausea, stomach pain, and loss of appetite, methotrexate might also raise your risk of some infections.
Fortunately, most arthritis patients who use this drug do not develop more infections, though if youre also taking other DMARDs or an additional biologic agent, the risk of infections is greater.
You can read more here about methotrexate side effects.
While this blood test should give you and your doctor some indication of whether your immune system has been substantially impacted by methotrexate, it might be more difficult to get routine blood work done during the COVID-19 crisis.
Don’t Miss: What Helps Lower Back Arthritis
Evolution Of Mtx Treatment
The declining use of MTX may be attributed, in part, to the perception that biologic agents are more precisely targeted to molecules and pathways involved in RA. However, the results of several studies indicate that MTX interferes with multiple inflammatory pathways thought to contribute to RA. MTX undergoes polyglutamation within cells, and MTX and its polyglutamates inhibit purine and pyrimidine synthesis, reduce antigen-dependent T-cell proliferation, and promote release of adenosine, which also has anti-inflammatory activity. The adenosine 2A receptor is expressed on many immune cells, including neutrophils, monocytes, macrophages, T cells, and natural killer cells. Activation of this receptor increases adenylyl cyclase activity, elevates intracellular levels of cAMP, and inhibits proinflammatory nuclear factor B and JAK/STAT signaling pathways. These intracellular events serve to decrease proinflammatory cytokines, such as TNF-a and IL-6, and increase the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10., Given our increasing understanding of the clinical benefits of MTX and its multiple anti-inflammatory actions, it is surprising that use of this DMARD is declining and that patients are being transitioned from MTX after a shorter period than is recommended.,
Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Methotrexate
Methotrexate can affect liver function, which is why doctors will monitor your liver health closely while you take it. Methotrexate isnt recommended for people who already have chronic liver disease or who are heavy drinkers and have alcohol-related liver damage. Because there is potential for liver damage in people taking MTX, they shouldnt consume alcohol excessively.
For occasional drinkers, Dr. Feldman says the rules about how much alcohol is safe to drink while taking methotrexate depends on the rheumatologist. Some doctors insist on no alcohol at all, he explains. He tends to be a little looser with his patients. I tell my patients you can have a few drinks per week, just not all at once.
And dont have the alcohol two days before you get your blood drawn at the office, he adds, because the alcohol can mess up the liver function test and confuse your doctor. But he thinks a drink here and there is not dangerous for patients without any liver issues.
You May Like: What’s Best To Take For Arthritis
How Do You Take It
You can take methotrexate in either pills or shots. There are prefilled methotrexate shots that are easy to take at home.
You will take 7.5 to 10 milligrams each week. Your doctor may raise that to 20-25 milligrams per week if needed.
The pills will come with directions about how many to take and when. If youâre not sure about those instructions, ask your doctor or a pharmacist.
Shots work better for some people, especially if you forget to take your pills on schedule or if the pills cause nausea. Methotrexate liquid comes in vials with a hypodermic needle or in prefilled pens with various doses.
You inject the drug under the skin on your stomach or thigh. Your doctor or nurse will show you how to do this at home. If you use a prefilled pen, youâll stick the pen into your stomach or thigh and press on it to inject the drug. Try to give yourself your shot in a different spot each time. This will help you avoid skin reactions.
It can take 3 to 6 weeks to start to feel your methotrexate work. It takes even longer — 12 weeks — to get the full effects.
What About Other Medications
When you are taking methotrexate, it is very important that your doctors know if you are taking any other medicine. This includes prescription and non-prescription medicines as well as birth control pills, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Methotrexate can be taken with other medications. You should not take methotrexate while taking antibiotics containing trimethoprim-sulfa . If you are prescribed one of these medications for an infection, do not take your methotrexate that week.
Known As An ‘anchor Drug’ Methotrexate Is Frequently Prescribed With Others Drugs
Many people with rheumatoid arthritis find that even after theyve worked up to a higher dose, methotrexate alone is not enough to quell all their symptoms. In this case, other medicines may be added along side MTX.
Probably around 30 to 40 percent of people stay on methotrexate without anything else. The rest need additional medication, Dr. Moghaddam says.
The goal of this combination treatment is to achieve control of joint inflammation so theres less risk for long-term damage to the joints.
What Are The Worst Side Effects Of Methotrexate Is My Hair Going To Fall Out
Message boards are flooded with questions and comments about all sorts of gnarly side effects. Dr. Feldman admits that everyone reacts differently to methotrexate, but he insists that most side effects are mild and controllable.
The most common side effects are fatigue a day or two after you take methotrexate, which is why I suggest taking it at night, he says. Also gastrointestinal issues. Your stool may be loose, or you may feel queasy or nauseated for a day or two after. Hair thinning and loss does happen, but I dont see it that often and folic acid does tend to minimize that. Mouth ulcers can occur later and methotrexate does make you sensitive to sunlight, so be careful sunbathing. But the most common side effects are fatigue and GI issues.
Also Check: Why Does Psoriatic Arthritis Hurt So Bad
What About Getting Vaccines While On Methotrexate
Methotrexate may slightly depress your bodys response to vaccinations, which means they might not be as effective as they would if you werent taking MTX. Its generally advised that you be up to date on your vaccines before starting methotrexate, so ask your doctor about this.
Some doctors might suggest that you take a two-week methotrexate holiday following your annual flu vaccine because research shows this can improve your bodys response the vaccine. You can read more about getting the flu vaccine when you have arthritis here.