Methotrexate is used to treat conditions in which some type of “excessive activity” in the body is causing problems.
In cancers, certain cells in the body grow and multiply too quickly. These cells then spread and damage nearby tissues.
Methotrexate is about stopping the growth of cancer cells. For this, it affects the genetic material of the cells and this reduces the number of new cells that the body produces.
It is believed that rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an excess of activity of the immune system. The immune system normally protects the body against attack by micro-organisms that can cause harm, such as germs.
However, in rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system begins to attack its own body as if they were exogenous agents. Although it is not known exactly how methotrexate works in rheumatoid arthritis, it is thought to have an effect on the functioning of the immune system.
In psoriasis, the skin cells in the outer layer of the skin multiply faster than normal. Methotrexate helps in psoriasis by reducing the overproduction of skin cells.
Before taking methotrexate
Before starting to take methotrexate, it is important that the doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant or intend to have children in the future.
- If you are breast-feeding.
- If you have an infection.
- If you have a stomach ulcer.
- If you have a gastrointestinal problem or diarrhea.
- If you have any problems with the functioning of your liver or kidneys.
- If you have a blood disorder.
How to take it?
Never Self-medicate You should always be consulted with a medium or specialist. You should not take methotrexate every day. The doctor will tell you how many tablets you should take each week – this will be calculated according to the condition, weight and height.
It is important that you take the correct number of tablets on the same day of the week. Take the tablets exactly as your doctor tells you to.
Methotrexate tablets are available in two strengths: 2.5 mg and 10 mg. Swallow the tablets with a glass of water. You can take methotrexate before or after food.
If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember, if it is within two days of when you should have taken it.
If you have missed a dose for more than two days, ask your doctor or clinic to tell you what to do. Never take two doses together to make up for the forgotten dose.
You may be recommended to take folinic acid tablets while you are being treated with methotrexate. This is to help reduce unwanted side effects. Your doctor will tell you what day (or days) of the week you can take it.
How to get the most out of your treatment?
If you are not sure why you are taking it, or what dose to take, or what day of the week you should do it, ask your doctor.
You should try to keep your regular appointments with the doctor in charge of your case. This is so that your progress can be controlled.
Also, do not take any vitamin preparations containing folic acid unless directed by your doctor.