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Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug Guide

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs: Glucocorticoids

Glucocorticoids are steroids. They are strong anti-inflammatory drugs that can also block other immune responses. These rheumatoid arthritis medications help relieve symptoms and may stop or slow joint damage. You receive these RA drugs by pill, or by injection.

Because of the risk of side effects, you should only use these RA drugs for brief periods, for example, when disease flares up or until DMARDs reach their full effectiveness. If your side effects are severe, don't stop taking the drug suddenly. Talk first with your doctor about what to do.

Examples of glucocorticoids:

 

NameBrand Name(s)PrecautionsPotential Side Effects

betamethasone

injectable

CelestoneTell your doctor if you have:
• Fungal infection
• History of TB
• Underactive thyroid
• Diabetes
• Stomach ulcer
• High blood pressure
• Osteoporosis
• Bruising
• Cataracts
• Increased cholesterol
•Atherosclerosis
• High blood pressure
• Increased appetite or indigestion
• Mood swings or nervousness
• Muscle weakness
• Osteoporosis
• Infections

prednisone

Deltasone, Meticorten, OrasoneTell your doctor if you have:
• Fungal infection
• History of TB
• Underactive thyroid
• Diabetes
• Stomach ulcer
• High blood pressure
• Osteoporosis
• Bruising
• Cataracts
• Increased cholesterol
•Atherosclerosis
• High blood pressure
• Increased appetite or indigestion
• Mood swings or nervousness
• Muscle weakness
• Osteoporosis
• Infections
 

 

Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs: NSAIDs

NSAIDs work by blocking an enzyme that promotes inflammation. By reducing inflammation, NSAIDS help reduce swelling and pain. But they are not effective in reducing joint damage. These drugs alone are not effective in treating the disease. They should be taken in combination with other rheumatoid arthritis medications.

As with glucocorticoids, you should use them for brief periods -- they can cause severe digestive tract problems. Which type, if any, your doctor prescribes may depend upon your medical history. If you have a history of liver, kidney, heart problems or stomach ulcers, it's best to not take these drugs. Ask your doctor whether any new NSAIDS producing fewer side effects are available.

Examples of NSAIDs:
 

NameBrand Name(s)PrecautionsPotential Side Effects
celecoxibCelebrex• Tell your doctor if you have had a heart attack, stroke, angina, blood clot, or high blood pressure or if you have sensitivity to NSAIDS or sulfa drugs.
• Do not take with other NSAIDS.
• Do not take late in pregnancy.
• Indigestion, diarrhea, and stomach pain
• Serious skin reactions

diclofenac sodium

Voltaren

Tell your doctor if you:
• Drink alcohol
• Use blood thinners
• Take ACE inhibitors, lithium, warfarin, or furosemide
• Have sensitivity to aspirin; kidney, liver, or heart disease; asthma; high blood pressure; ulcers
• Do not take with other NSAIDs.

• Abdominal cramps, diarrhea
• Dizziness or drowsiness
• Heartburn, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, ulcer, or bleeding
• Increased risk of blood clots, heart attacks, and stroke

Greater risk of complications for people with cardiovascular disease
ibuprofenMotrin, Advil

Tell your doctor if you:
• Drink alcohol
• Use blood thinners
• Take ACE inhibitors, lithium, warfarin, or furosemide
• Have sensitivity to aspirin; kidney, liver, or heart disease; asthma; high blood pressure; ulcers
• Do not take with other NSAIDS.

• Abdominal cramps, diarrhea
• Dizziness or drowsiness
• Heartburn, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, ulcer, or bleeding
• Increased risk of blood clots, heart attacks, and stroke

Greater risk of complications for people with cardiovascular disease
 

 

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