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Antirheumatic Drugs

Definition

Antirheumatic drugs are drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Purpose

Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive form of arthritis that has devastating effects on joints and general health. It is classified as an auto-immune disease, because the disease is caused by the body's own immune system acting against the body itself. Symptoms include painful, stiff, swollen joints, fever, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
In recent years, there has been a change in attitude concerning the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Physicians now use Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) early in the history of the disease and are less inclined to wait for crippling stages before resorting to the more potent drugs. Fuller understanding of the side-effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) has also stimulated reliance on other types of antirheumatic drugs.

Precautions

Many antirheumatic drugs such as, for example, azathioprine (Imuran) and methotrexate (Rheumatrex), are very powerful drugs. They are usually prescribed in severe cases, when all other treatments have failed. Thus, they may have serious side effects, so it is important to be monitored closely by a physician while taking any of these drugs.

Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) is a category of otherwise unrelated drugs defined by their use in rheumatoid arthritis to slow down disease progression.

The term is often used in contrast to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which refers to agents that treat the inflammation but not the underlying cause.

 
 

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