Arava is the original brand name used for Lefluenomide, which is an immunosuppressive DMARD (Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drug). It can be taken orally and comes in different tablet variants that contain the drug actively in amounts of 10, 20 or 100 milligrams.
How it works
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that occurs when the body’s defense system (immune system) starts to attack the healthy tissues around the joints. This happens when the body’s defenses cannot clearly identify the body itself and Arava can be used to treat this condition. Leflunomide weakens the immune system and decreases the swelling (inflammation) which will be helpful to reduce the pain/damage/swelling in the joints.
Treating psoriatic arthritis and preventing the rejection of an organ transplant are some other uses of Lefluenomide.
The dosage will be based on your medical condition as well as your response to therapy and it is very important that you take this medicine strictly according to the doctor’s prescription. Consume Arava once daily or as directed by your doctor, which can be done via mouth with or without food.
For the first 3 days of treatment, a higher dose might be recommended by him/her. Consume the medication at the same time each day so it will help you to remember its usage. Leflunomide will need to be rapidly removed from your body if you are a male or female who are planning on having children, a patient suffering from its side effects or in any other emergency situation.
A different drug called, ‘Cholestyramine’ can be used to remove the leflunomide from the body. It might remain up to 2 years inside your body if this removal procedure is not performed. You should contact your health care provider if you have any questions regarding this procedure or if your conditions persist or worsen.
Leflunomide can cause your blood pressure to rise so it is important to check your blood pressure levels when using it. This could result in a not so serious mild rash as well. Also inform your doctor right away if the following severe side effects occur.
Tingling of hands/feet/ numbness
Urination levels increasing
Effects like dizziness, diarrhea and nausea might also occur on a minor level. You might get some signs of infection like fever, sore throat or chills as this medication may lower your body’s ability to fight infections. Get immediate medical attention if any of these or any other effect that is not mentioned on this list occurs, persists or worsens.
If you are allergic to leflunomide or any other inactive ingredient of Arava, your pharmacist/doctor should be informed prior to consuming the medicine. Any other allergies that you might have should be revealed accordingly as well. Your medical history should be disclosed to him/her if you have the following conditions: immune system disorder, recent infection, bone marrow/blood disorder, cancer, kidney/liver/heart/lung disease or high blood pressure.
Alcoholic beverages should be avoided at all times as this medication is known to cause dizziness and increase the risk of liver disease. Also, make sure to wash your hands well to avoid any infection from spreading as this drug may increase the risk of getting a serious infection.
Arava should not be used if you are pregnant as it may harm the unborn baby. It is not recommended to breastfeed while on medication as it might have an undesirable effect on the infant too.