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Managing rheumatoid arthritis treatment side effects.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a lifelong health condition that has no cure. It is important to start treatment as soon as a RA diagnosis is confirmed. For most people with RA, early treatment is the key to preventing further damage to joints and other body parts.

The goals of RA treatment are:

  • Stop inflammation
  • Relieve symptoms
  • Slow down or prevent joint damage
  • Prevent damage to other body parts
  • Preserve physical function, mobility and safety
  • Address emotional health and well-being

Types of RA treatment.

RA treatments work by either targeting the disease activity or managing symptoms. Your treatment may change as your RA changes.

Click here to learn more about specific types of RA treatment.

For most people with RA, early treatment is the key to preventing further damage to joints and other body parts.

Minimizing treatment side effects.

Fatigue. Almost everyone with RA experiences fatigue – a feeling of being drained and overly tired that doesn’t get better with sleep. RA fatigue may be due to factors like stress, inflammation (swelling) or medications like steroids that help relieve flares. Ways you can help manage your fatigue include:

  • Eating healthy
  • Exercising on a regular basis
  • Protecting your joints with proper support
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Taking breaks

Sweating. Some RA patients experience increased sweating, which can be a side effect of some RA medications like Remicade® (infliximab) or Rituxan® (rituximab). However, there may be other reasons for sweating more. Talk to your doctor to find the exact cause and right treatment.

Nausea. Nausea and vomiting are known side effects of methotrexate, a medication commonly used to help treat RA. It can be taken any time, with or without food, and it’s best to take it about the same time of day, on the same day of the week. If you have nausea and vomiting, your rheumatologist may suggest taking methotrexate at night. Your doctor may have other ways to manage or relieve nausea and vomiting, such as taking a folic acid supplement.

Bleeding. According to manufacturers, bleeding is a rare but serious side effect of medications called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers (also called anti-TNFs), including Enbrel®. Your body may not make enough blood cells to help fight infections or stop bleeding while taking Enbrel®. It’s normal to bleed a small amount in the area of the injection but if you notice other bleeding, bruising or if you look pale, talk to your rheumatologist right away.

We know living with RA requires extra care. With CVS Specialty, you can count on the support of your own RA CareTeam, led by clinicians who are specially trained in RA. They help you manage your RA and stay on track with your treatment—so you can focus more on living your life. Whether it’s about side effects, how to take your medication, or ideas on how to stay healthy, they’re always ready to help.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about your medical condition and prior to starting any new treatment. CVS Specialty assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

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