Methotrexate is a popular medicine used for treating conditions such as, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and some types of cancer. However, uncontrolled usage may cause liver damage and other serious complications. This HealthHearty article will help you understand the dosage, usage, and side effects of this medication.
Methotrexate is a drug that is usually prescribed to treat arthritis, psoriasis, and cancer. It not only helps in relieving the pain, but also prevents long-term disability of the joints. It belongs to the disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs or DMARDs. It also causes interference with the growth of cancerous cells in the body such as bone marrow cells and skin cells.
Methotrexate interferes with enzyme dihydrofolate reductase that is active within the immune system. When the enzyme is blocked, production of a form of folic acid is disrupted. This form of folic acid is very important for growing cells in the blood, skin, gastrointestinal tissues, as well as the immune system. Thus, it is used in treatment of cancers as well as psoriasis. Methotrexate is usually advised to patients when all other treatments or drugs do not show any progress in treating the disease. The mode of action in case of arthritis is still not very clear.
You should take your dosage exactly as advised by your doctor. The dosage for rheumatoid arthritis as well as for psoriasis, is slightly less than the prescribed dosage for cancer treatment. In case you miss a dose, skip it and take the drug when it is time for your next dose. Never attempt to take two doses at once. Always store the drug in a cool, dry, and dark place away from direct sunlight.
The tablets of methotrexate are available in 2.5 mg dosage. For adults, the starting dose is generally 7.5 mg to 10 mg. About 3 to 4 pills are taken together once in a week. In some cases, the dose is increased to as high as 20 to 25 mg/week. When the dose is higher than 17.5 mg/week, it is usually given in form of injection, either intramuscularly or subcutaneously.
For rheumatoid arthritis, the medication is usually given in tablet form. The dose of an entire week is generally given at one time. Mostly, the therapy is divided into small doses that need to be administered within a period of 24 hours. It can also be injected intramuscularly to avoid gastrointestinal problems in many people. Usually, Saturday is the day chosen for taking the dosage of the entire week. It is generally given in a single dose of 7.5 mg per week, or a 2.5 mg dose is taken every 12 hours.
There are many side effects that are seen in patients. These side effects include mouth sores, suppression of bone marrow leading to low blood cell count, and potential damage to the liver. Other side effects include:
- Lung problems
- Skin rash
- Shortness of breath
- Sun sensitivity
Who Should Avoid the Drug
It should be avoided by pregnant women and those women who are planning a pregnancy. This is because, it may cause cell damage in the fetus and lead to birth defects. It should also be avoided by those who have kidney and liver problems. If one is prescribed methotrexate, they should stop drinking alcohol because of the increased chances of liver damage.
Speak to your doctor about the drug and follow the dosage as advised. Do not take chances by altering the doses on your own.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.