What is Azathioprine?
Azathioprine is classified as an immunosuppressant type of medication used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Sometimes the bodyís immune system will react excessively, not recognize the body and attack healthy tissues around the joints. The medication will decrease the activity in the bodyís immune system to help prevent it from attacking the joints. By suppressing the immune system, the medication may also help prevent the rejection of transplanted organs.
How is Azathioprine used?
Azathioprine is usually taken orally 1 to 2 times per day or as directed by a doctor. The tablets should be taken with a full glass of water and some food to prevent an upset stomach. The dosage will depend on the patientís condition and their reaction to the medication, contact a doctor for the correct dosage. Do not discontinue the treatment if there are no signs of improvement immediately as the full effects of the medication may not be felt until after 8 weeks of treatment. The drug is used to control rheumatoid arthritis but cannot be used as a cure for the condition.
Azathioprine may cause side effects such as:
- Upset stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Hair loss
Contact a doctor immediately should side effects persist or encounter more severe side effects such as:
- Vision changes
- Numbness in fingers
- Bloody vomit
- Black stools
- Painful urination
- Increased risk of infection
As the medication decreases the activity of the immune system, your doctor may prescribe additional medication to help fight the risk of infection.
Immediately proceed to your nearest emergency department if you suffer an allergic reaction. Symptoms usually associated with such a reaction include difficulty breathing or swallowing, chest tightness, swelling, skin rashes, and hives.
Azathioprine is not always suitable for all patients. Always consult your health care provider prior to using this medication if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to conceive, using any other medication (prescription or non-prescription), using any herbal products or supplements, or if you have any allergies or other health problems.
The correct dosage and prescription commonly depend on the patient and the condition being treated. Do not adjust your dosage without the approval of your health care provider. This product is only for use as prescribed and instructed.