People who are going through chemotherapy sessions may have heard about methotrexate drugs, but do you know what is methotrexate? Methotrexate is a drug which is used to cure many life-threatening diseases. This drug interferes with the growth cells and hinder their production. It interferes with the folic acid and stops the metabolic process of the cells. The most affected cells are the ones which rapidly grow like cancerous cells, skin cells, bone marrow cells, etc.
Hence we can say that the toxicity of methotrexate, not only affects the diseased cells but also harms the growth of other healthy cells like the bone marrow cells and skin cells. This drug also affects the DNA and RNA synthesis. This is the reason why these drugs are used as the last option in any treatment as they can take a person to a life-threatening condition.
Toxicity of methotrexate is so high that a normal dose can also be very harmful. Heavy methotrexate dosage can even cause death. It is used in cancerous conditions and severe overactive diseases like psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. This prescription drug is also used for abortion, hence it is advised, that the intake of the drug should be stopped by both the partners, if they want to have a baby. Women who are pregnant should not use this drug at all, as it can cause irreparable defects to the growth of the baby and can result in spontaneous abortion. Apart from this, it also damages the liver, lungs and other parts of the body and reduces the immune power as well as the metabolism rate of the body.
Methotrexate Toxicity Symptoms
Even a small amount of methotrexate is harmful, hence whenever you take this drug following are some of the symptoms you may observe.
- Methotrexate lung toxicity can be observed which may be associated with dry and non-productive cough.
- Low immunity may result from the destruction of white blood cells. This can become the reason for frequent infections. It can also take you to low platelet count or anemia.
- Severe vomiting and diarrhea may cause dehydration.
- Methotrexate liver toxicity can also be observed which is a very severe condition and can even cause liver damage.
- Nausea, fever, chills, shortness of breath may also be observed as its symptoms.
Treatments for Methotrexate Toxicity
Toxicity of Methotrexate can be monitored by a regular blood test. These test can be performed in the oncology units. If the blood shows a high toxicity of methotrexate, then the treatment should be started immediately. Following are some of the treatment which may be performed by the doctor to treat the toxicity.
- Active charcoal is given immediately if there is a case of overdose.
- Toxicity of methotrexate can be treated with urinary alkalinisation and adequate fluid, which should be given so as to prevent renal failure. The toxicity can be reduced to a large extent as it can be removed by urinating.
- Folic acid therapy are used in some cases which is said to be very effective.
- Folinic acid (leucovorin) can be given from the very first dose of the treatment as it removes the blockage present in the folic acid cycle. Hence, managing a proper functioning of immune system.
- Hemodialysis can also be performed in the case of renal or kidney failure.
After the treatment, it is very necessary to keep a follow-up with the doctor, as there may be some of the problems which may show their effects after sometimes. It is always better to go for a regular check-up. So, now if your doctor asks you to get a treatment with methotrexate drug, you better inform him about your body conditions to avoid any further complications. Methotrexate toxicity is definitely dangerous, but the fact is that, it is effective in curing some very dangerous diseases. Hence in some cases they can't be avoided.