Methotrexate is a very potent medication administered in patients suffering from many autoimmune illnesses and cancers. It has also been used for termination of early pregnancy. Even though it is effective in treatment of many diseases, Methotrexate also has several side effects which must be taken into consideration if the drug is prescribed.
Methotrexate acts as powerful antimetabolit and antifolic agent. It inhibits the metabolism of folic acid and can successfully block cellular metabolism. Its anti-inflammatory properties makes it suitable for all illnesses associated with increased inflammation such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis etc. This drug reduces the response of the immune system and suppresses the inflammation caused by specific blood cells.
Methotrexate is only one of the chemotherapeutics prescribed in patients suffering from many types of cancers. The medication prevents the growth of the cancer cells. This is achieved by inhibition of DNA and RNA generation. It is commonly prescribed in case of choriocarcinoma, osteocarcinoma, non -Hodgkin lymphoma and head and neck cancers. It may be also administered in patients suffering from breast and lung cancer.
Furthermore, Methotrexate is highly effective in termination of pregnancy. It can induce miscarriage and early termination of pregnancy. The effects are in this case associated with destruction of the rapidly growing cells of the placenta. This medication is administered in patients suffering from ectopic pregnancy and those with early missed miscarriage.
Apart from the previously mentioned Methotrexate is also prescribed in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, poliomyelitis, ankylosing spondylitis, scleroderma, postural psoriasis and several more autoimmune diseases.
Side effects of Methotrexate
Common side effects of Methotrexate are headaches, muscle aches, sore throat, painful urination and feeling of cold accompanied by shivering.
Being able to reduce the number of white blood cells and inhibit their production in the bone marrow this medication significantly increases risk of infections. This is why leucopenia is considered a common side effect of this medication. Furthermore, Methotrexate can be associated with anemia. Patients usually develop anemia during treatment with Methotrexate. Gastrointestinal side effects of Methotrexate include nausea, vomiting, abdominal distress and diarrhea. Nausea and vomiting usually occur due to high doses of medications.
Apart from the previously mentioned there are several more side effects of Methotrexate and they include ulcerative stomatitis, hair loss, fever, chills and dizziness. The drug must never be administered in pregnant women and women who are taking this medication are not supposed to try to conceive during treatment.
And in rather rare cases Metrotrexate may cause vasculitis, loss of libido/ impotence, diabetes, osteoporosis, osteonecrosis, reversible lymphomas, tumor lysis syndrome, soft tissue necrosis, anaphylactoid reactions and sudden death.