Rheumatoid Arthritis (cont.)
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Medicines are the main treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. The types of medicines used depend on how severe your disease is, how fast it is progressing, and how it affects your daily life.
If your symptoms ease, you and your doctor will decide if you can take less medicine or stop taking medicine. If your symptoms get worse, you will have to start taking medicine again.
Medicines are used to:
Medicines called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can slow or sometimes prevent joint destruction. Starting treatment early with DMARDs can reduce the severity of the disease.3 DMARDs are also called immunosuppressive drugs or slow-acting antirheumatic drugs (SAARDs). These medicines work best when taken over a long period to help control the disease.8
DMARDS can be divided into two general categories based on how they work: oral DMARDs and biologic DMARDs. Oral DMARDS are taken by mouth. They interfere with the making or working of immune cells that cause joint inflammation. Biologic DMARDS are given by injection (infusion). They act in several different ways to affect how immune cells work. DMARDs decrease joint inflammation and damage.
Medicines may be given together. This is called combination therapy. Oral medicines are combined with each other or with biologic DMARDs. But biologic DMARDs are not used with each other because of a higher risk of infection. By combining medicines, you may be able to take lower doses of individual medicines. This may reduce your risk of side effects.
Some medicines for rheumatoid arthritis may cause birth defects. If you are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about your medicines.
Medicines to slow the disease
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are usually started within 3 months of your diagnosis. They are used to control the progression of RA and to try to prevent joint damage and disability. DMARDs are often given in combination with other medicines.
Commonly used oral DMARDs:
Less commonly used oral DMARDs:
Medicines to relieve symptoms
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