What side effects are common with rheumatoid arthritis medicines, and what can you do about them? In these discussions, people in the WebMD Rheumatoid Arthritis Community discussed side effects of RA medications and offered tips for relieving them.
From the newly diagnosed to longtime veterans of RA, people said the most common medication side effects were:
- Hair loss
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Mouth sores
People’s experiences with medication side effects varied, however. For example, while one person may have experienced hair loss from a particular drug, another did not.
Some people said they felt like hypochondriacs and were afraid to keep bringing up medication side effects with their doctor. But many community members advised them not to hesitate to report side effects. They pointed out that it can take a while for you and your rheumatologist to come up with the right medicine or combination of medicines. Others pointed out that symptoms sometimes subside over time, or come and go.
Consider asking your doctor about these tips that people suggested for GI symptoms when taking medication orally:
- Eat something before taking medication.
- Take medication at night.
- Spread the dose out over a period of time.
- Take RA medication with an over-the-counter antacid or other medicine used to treat excess stomach acid.
Several people on the board said that folic acid supplements alleviated their side effects from taking methotrexate -- such as mouth cracks, hair loss, fatigue, and GI symptoms. A few said folic acid didn’t help. Opinions varied about how much folic acid to take and when.
The most common advice in the discussion: If you are having severe side effects with oral medication, talk to your doctor about taking medication by infusion or injection. Some people said that switching to injections had helped alleviate their side effects, such as fatigue and stomach upset.