Leflunomide is an effective medication utilized either alone or in combination with other drugs to manage rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune condition characterized by joint pain, swelling, and functional loss.
This medication belongs to the category of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which act by reducing inflammation and slowing the disease’s progression, thereby enhancing physical activity and functionality for individuals affected by rheumatoid arthritis.
Uses and Dosage
Leflunomide is administered orally in tablet form, usually once a day. During the initial three days of treatment, your physician may recommend a higher dose of leflunomide. Carefully adhere to the instructions provided on your prescription label and consult with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any doubts.
Take leflunomide precisely as prescribed, refrain from taking more or less than the prescribed dosage or administering it more frequently.
If you experience any severe side effects, your physician may need to decrease your dosage or discontinue treatment altogether. Inform your physician of any changes in your condition during the course of treatment.
Although leflunomide may alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, it is not a cure. Continue taking leflunomide even if you feel better. Do not stop taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention:
- weight loss
- back pain
- muscle pain or weakness
- pain, burning, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
- hair loss
- leg cramps
- dry skin
Inform your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any serious side effects:
- rash with or without a fever
- blisters or peeling of skin
- mouth sores
- difficulty breathing
- new or worsening cough
- chest pain
- pale skin
Prior to taking leflunomide, inform your doctor or pharmacist of any allergies you may have, including allergies to leflunomide, teriflunomide, or any other substances contained in the product that may cause an allergic reaction or other issues. You should speak with your pharmacist for further information regarding any inactive ingredients.
Before using this medication, inform your doctor or pharmacist of your medical history, particularly if you have a history of immune system disorders such as HIV infection, current or recent infections such as tuberculosis, cancer, bone marrow or blood disorders, kidney disease, liver disease such as hepatitis B or C, alcohol abuse, heart disease such as congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, or lung disease.
This medication may cause dizziness. The consumption of alcohol or marijuana may exacerbate this symptom. Until you can do so safely, avoid operating machinery, driving, or engaging in any activity that requires alertness.
Leflunomide may increase your risk of developing infections or worsen any existing infections. Avoid contact with individuals who have contagious infections such as chickenpox, measles, or the flu. If you have been exposed to an infection or require more information, consult with your doctor.
This medication should not be used during pregnancy as it may harm the unborn baby. Women of childbearing age must have a negative pregnancy test before starting this medication. Men and women must use effective forms of birth control such as condoms and birth control pills while taking this medication. Please consult with your doctor for additional details and to discuss reliable forms of birth control.
It is unknown if this medication affects sperm. To reduce any potential risks, the manufacturer recommends that men who wish to father a child consider stopping the medication and using another drug as directed to eliminate this drug from the body before attempting to father a child. Consult with your doctor for further information.
This medication may enter breast milk and have adverse effects on a nursing infant. Breastfeeding is not recommended while using this medication.
Form and Strength
Arava is available in the following forms and strengths:
How long does it take for Arava to kick in?
It may take several weeks after starting leflunomide to experience an improvement in joint pain or swelling. Complete benefits may not be experienced until 6–12 weeks after starting the medication.
Does Arava make you tired?
Arava oral tablets do not cause drowsiness, but they can cause other side effects.