What is methotrexate and when can it be used?
Methotrexate is a medication that is officially approved for the treatment of certain autoimmune diseases and cancer, but also for the treatment of psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. Since it is the very strong, it has to be prescribed by the doctor, and it can be found in the form of a tablet or injection. It works by blocking the enzyme that is important for the ability of cells to repair and replicate, which is particularly helpful in cases of cancers. It is also believed that it affects the immune system, though it has not been scientifically confirmed.
What are the possible side effects of methotrexate?
Generally, the use of this medication is suggested only when all the other options have been exhausted, and when less toxic medications have failed in showing positive results. Before prescribing methotrexate, the doctor has to take into consideration several factors, because some of the side effects that it may cause are very serious. Besides the patient’s weight, age and the condition that is about to be treated, what should also be taken into consideration is existence of some other condition, or the use of some medications, because serious contraindications are possible in such situations. For example, if the patient suffers from anemia, or any other form of low blood cell counts, liver disease, weakened immune system, allergy of any kind or if he or she is about to undergo the radiation treatment, it is necessary to inform the doctor about it in advance, because the use of this medication may not be safe.
Also,medications that should not be taken in combination with methotrexate include antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as certain medications that belong to the group of phenytoin, salicylate, sulfasalazine, theophylline.
Side effects related to this medication that are life-threatening include severe diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration, signs of anemia and low white blood cells, signs of liver damage such liver fibrosis or cirrhosis, and signs of allergic reaction. Less serious side effects are gingivitis, lower blood pressure, headaches, acne and drowsiness, but it is also possible that the person will face with hair loss, blood clots, temporary blindness, impotence and even temporary infertility. However, since all of them are temporary only, they are not considered to be as serious as those mentioned in thebeginning.
One more thing that should be mentioned refers to the use of this medication in pregnancy and while lactating. It is highly recommended to avoid the use of methotrexate under such circumstances, because serious complications in pregnancy are possible, and it is not safe for a child in cases of women who are breastfeeding.