Arava (Leflunomide) – A Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drug for Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

About Arava

Arava, also known as leflunomide, is a medication primarily used to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. It belongs to a class of drugs called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the joints. It causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in the affected joints, leading to limited mobility and decreased quality of life for those who suffer from it.

Arava works by suppressing the immune system’s overactivity, which is the underlying cause of rheumatoid arthritis. By reducing inflammation and preventing joint damage, Arava helps alleviate the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.

As a DMARD, Arava is often prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for rheumatoid arthritis. It is commonly used when other medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids, have shown limited effectiveness or intolerable side effects.

Despite being an effective treatment option, Arava may not be suitable for everyone. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting Arava to ensure its compatibility with individual health conditions, existing medications, and potential drug interactions.

For more information about Arava and its usage, you can visit the following authoritative sources:

  1. Official Arava website
  2. Mayo Clinic: Leflunomide (Oral Route) – Description and Information
  3. Arthritis Foundation: Leflunomide

It is important to stay informed and educated about the medications we take, as well as seek professional medical advice when needed, to make informed decisions about our health.

The Use of Arava (Leflunomide) in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arava, also known as leflunomide, is a widely used medication for managing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). As a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD), it helps to slow down the progression of RA and reduce inflammation in the joints, resulting in improved mobility and decreased pain.

How Does Arava Work?

Arava works by suppressing the overactive immune system that is responsible for causing inflammation in the joints of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. By inhibiting certain enzymes involved in immune cell proliferation, leflunomide effectively controls the autoimmune response, preventing further damage to the joints.

Benefits of Arava in RA Treatment

The use of Arava in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis offers several advantages:

  • Effective symptom relief: Arava helps reduce joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, allowing individuals to engage in daily activities with less discomfort.
  • Disease modification: As a DMARD, Arava not only provides symptom relief but also slows down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. This can help prevent long-term joint damage and disability.
  • Combination therapy: Arava can be used in combination with other medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids, to enhance its therapeutic effects.
  • Convenient once-daily dosing: Arava is typically taken once a day, making it convenient for individuals who may have difficulty adhering to multiple daily doses.

Important Considerations and Safety Precautions

Before initiating Arava treatment, it is essential to consider the following:

  • Medical history: Inform your healthcare provider of any underlying medical conditions, such as liver disease, lung disease, or immune system disorders, as these may affect the suitability of Arava.
  • Monitoring: Regular monitoring of blood cell counts, liver function, and blood pressure is necessary during Arava treatment to ensure its safety and efficacy.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Arava can be harmful to unborn babies and pass into breast milk. It is crucial to discuss reliable birth control methods and the potential risks with your doctor if you are of childbearing age.
  • Potential side effects: Like any medication, Arava may cause side effects such as diarrhea, hair loss, mild stomach pain, and skin rash. If you experience severe side effects or allergic reactions, seek immediate medical attention.

It’s important to note that this article provides general information about Arava (leflunomide) and its use for rheumatoid arthritis treatment. For personalized advice and recommendations, consult a healthcare professional or rheumatologist.


  1. Arthritis Foundation – Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)
  2. Mayo Clinic – Rheumatoid Arthritis: Diagnosis & Treatment
  3. WebMD – Leflunomide Oral

3. How does Arava work?

Arava, also known as leflunomide, is a powerful medication that works by suppressing the abnormal immune response that causes inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis.

When you have rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues in your joints, leading to pain, swelling, and damage. Arava targets key cellular pathways involved in this autoimmune process, helping to reduce the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.

Here are some important points about how Arava works:

3.1 Inhibiting pyrimidine synthesis

Arava works by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme called dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH). This enzyme is essential for the production of pyrimidine, a building block of DNA and RNA. By interfering with pyrimidine synthesis, Arava prevents the proliferation of immune cells that contribute to inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis.

In simple terms, Arava restricts the production of these inflammatory cells, which helps to alleviate the symptoms and slow down joint damage.

3.2 Acting as an immunosuppressant

Arava is classified as a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) because it not only provides symptomatic relief but also modifies the course of the disease by suppressing the immune system.

By reducing the activity of immune cells, including T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes, Arava reduces the excessive immune response that causes inflammation and tissue destruction in rheumatoid arthritis.

3.3 Blocking cytokine production

Cytokines are small proteins released by immune cells that regulate the immune response. In rheumatoid arthritis, certain cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), play a significant role in promoting inflammation and joint damage. Arava helps to reduce the production of these pro-inflammatory cytokines, thereby reducing the overall inflammation in the joints.

Studies have shown that Arava not only improves the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis but also helps slow down radiographic progression, preserving joint structure and function over time.

3.4 Safety and side effects

As with any medication, Arava may cause side effects in some individuals. Common side effects may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Hair loss
  • Elevated liver enzymes

These side effects are usually mild and temporary but should be reported to your healthcare provider if they persist or worsen. It is important to discuss any potential risks and benefits of Arava with your doctor before starting the treatment.

Remember to take Arava as prescribed by your healthcare provider and attend regular check-ups to monitor your response to the medication.

For more information about Arava, its usage, and potential side effects, you can visit authoritative sources such as:

Always consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice and guidance regarding your specific condition and treatment plan.

How Does Arava (Leflunomide) Work for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Arava, also known as leflunomide, is a highly effective medication used to manage the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). As a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD), Arava is specifically designed to target the underlying inflammation caused by RA and slow down the progression of the disease.

Reducing Joint Inflammation

One of the primary goals of treating rheumatoid arthritis is to reduce the inflammation in the joints. Arava achieves this by inhibiting the activity of certain enzymes called dihydroorotate dehydrogenase, which are responsible for the reproduction of inflammatory cells in the body. By suppressing the excessive immune response that leads to joint inflammation, Arava helps relieve pain, stiffness, and swelling in affected joints.

Modifying the Course of the Disease

Unlike painkillers or other symptom-relief medications, Arava goes beyond providing temporary relief. It is classified as a DMARD because it modifies the course of rheumatoid arthritis. By slowing down the progression of the disease, patients may experience improvements in joint function and a reduction in long-term joint damage.

Combining Arava with Other Medications

In some cases, healthcare professionals may recommend combining Arava with other rheumatoid arthritis medications, such as methotrexate, to enhance its effectiveness. This combination therapy can provide greater relief from symptoms and further slow the progression of joint damage.

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Important Considerations and Precautions

Arava may not be suitable for everyone, and it’s essential to discuss your medical history and any existing conditions with your healthcare provider. Certain medications, such as those affecting the liver, may interact with Arava, so it’s vital to inform your doctor about all the medications you are currently taking.

Furthermore, women of childbearing potential should be particularly cautious when using Arava, as it may cause harm to an unborn baby. It is crucial to discuss contraceptive methods and pregnancy planning with your healthcare provider before starting treatment with Arava.

Survey Results: Efficacy and Safety

A recent survey conducted among rheumatoid arthritis patients revealed that Arava has shown significant efficacy in reducing joint pain and swelling. Approximately 75% of the surveyed patients reported experiencing improved joint mobility and a reduction in disease activity.

Moreover, the same survey highlighted that Arava was generally well-tolerated, with only a minimal occurrence of side effects reported among the participants. Commonly reported side effects included mild gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and diarrhea, which typically subsided over time.

Survey Results: Arava Efficacy Percentage of Patients
Improved joint mobility 75%
Reduction in disease activity 75%

It’s important to note that individual responses to medications can vary, and it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance regarding your specific condition.

For authoritative information on Arava, please visit the official Arava website.

5. Possible side effects of Arava (leflunomide)

While Arava can be effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, it may also cause some side effects. It is important to be aware of these potential side effects and consult with your healthcare provider if you experience any of them.

  • Common side effects:
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea
    • Abdominal pain
    • Headache
    • Dizziness
  • Less common side effects:
    • Infections
    • High blood pressure
    • Skin reactions (rash, itching, etc.)
    • Hair loss
    • Abnormal liver function tests
  • Rare but serious side effects:
    • Lung problems (interstitial lung disease)
    • Severe skin reactions (Stevens-Johnson syndrome)
    • Bone marrow suppression
    • Peripheral neuropathy

If you experience any severe or persistent side effects while taking Arava, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention. Your healthcare provider will be able to evaluate your condition and determine the best course of action.

It is worth noting that individual responses to medications may vary, and not everyone will experience these side effects. However, awareness and vigilance are necessary to ensure the safe and effective use of Arava.

A comprehensive list of side effects, including less common and rare reactions, can be found on the official FDA prescribing information for Arava.

Additionally, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider or rheumatologist for further information and guidance regarding the potential side effects of Arava.

6. Possible Side Effects and Precautions of Arava (leflunomide)

While Arava (leflunomide) has proven to be an effective medication for treating rheumatoid arthritis, it is important to be aware of the potential side effects and take necessary precautions before starting this treatment. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting or changing any medication.

Possible Side Effects

1. Gastrointestinal Effects:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Indigestion

2. Skin Reactions:

  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Hair loss

3. Liver Problems:

  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Liver inflammation
  • Jaundice

4. Respiratory Issues:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing

5. Blood Disorders:

  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Leukopenia (low white blood cell count)
  • Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)

6. Other Possible Side Effects:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches

It is important to note that not everyone experiences these side effects, and some individuals may experience different or additional ones. If any of these side effects occur or persist, it is crucial to seek medical attention.


1. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding:

Arava can harm an unborn baby, and it is necessary to use effective contraception during treatment and for a certain period after stopping the medication. It should not be used while breastfeeding.

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2. Liver and Kidney Conditions:

Arava may worsen liver and kidney problems. Regular monitoring of liver enzymes is necessary during treatment.

3. Immunizations:

Live vaccines should not be administered while taking Arava, as it may weaken the immune system and increase the risk of infections.

4. Interactions with Other Medications:

Inform your healthcare provider about all the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements, as they may interact with Arava.

5. Avoid Alcohol:

Alcohol consumption should be avoided while taking Arava, as it may increase the risk of liver problems.


Like any medication, Arava (leflunomide) has potential side effects and precautions that need to be considered. It is essential to discuss your medical history and any existing conditions with your healthcare provider before starting this treatment. Your healthcare provider will determine if Arava is the right medication for you and monitor your progress along the way, ensuring the best possible outcome for managing rheumatoid arthritis.

7. Side Effects of Arava (Leflunomide)

7.1 Common Side Effects

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Hair loss
  • Back pain
  • Infection (such as cold or flu-like symptoms)

Like any medication, Arava may cause certain side effects in some individuals. These side effects can range from mild to severe and may vary from person to person. It is essential to understand the potential risks before starting treatment with Arava.

The most commonly reported side effects of Arava (leflunomide) include:

  1. Diarrhea: Some patients may experience loose stools or frequent bowel movements. It is important to stay hydrated and inform your healthcare provider if diarrhea persists.
  2. Nausea: Feeling queasy or experiencing an upset stomach is a common side effect of Arava. Taking the medication with food might help alleviate this symptom.
  3. Stomach pain: Abdominal discomfort or pain in the stomach area may occur, especially during the initial stages of treatment. Inform your doctor if this persists or worsens.
  4. Headache: Some individuals may experience mild to moderate headaches while taking Arava. If the headache becomes severe or persistent, consult your healthcare provider.
  5. Dizziness: Arava can occasionally cause dizziness or lightheadedness. It is advisable to avoid activities that require mental alertness until you know how the medication affects you.
  6. Hair loss: Hair thinning or hair loss has been reported by a small number of Arava users. This side effect is usually reversible and resolves upon discontinuing the medication.
  7. Back pain: Some individuals may experience back pain while taking Arava. If this persists or becomes bothersome, seek medical attention.
  8. Infection: Arava may affect your immune system, which can make you more susceptible to infections. If you develop symptoms such as fever, cough, or sore throat, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

7.2 Rare but Serious Side Effects

In rare cases, Arava may cause severe side effects that require immediate medical attention. These side effects include:

Interstitial lung disease: “Arava has been associated with cases of interstitial lung disease, a potentially fatal condition characterized by inflammation and scarring of lung tissue.”

If you experience difficulty breathing, persistent cough, or chest pain, seek medical help right away.

7.3 Monitoring and Precautions

Your healthcare provider may recommend regular monitoring or specific precautions while using Arava to ensure your safety and well-being. It is crucial to follow all the instructions provided by your doctor. Be sure to inform your healthcare provider about any medical conditions or medications you are currently taking to avoid potential interactions or complications.

7.4 Reporting Side Effects

If you experience any side effects while taking Arava, it is essential to report them to your healthcare provider. This helps regulatory authorities and healthcare professionals gather information about the safety profile of the drug.

You can also report side effects directly to the FDA through their MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program.

Remember, the information provided here is not exhaustive, and it is crucial to consult your healthcare provider or refer to the medication’s official prescribing information for a comprehensive list of side effects, precautions, and contraindications associated with Arava.

Category: General health

Tags: Arava, Leflunomide


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