What is Arava&Reg;?

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  • Written By: Debra Durkee
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 15 June 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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Arava® is the brand name of the rheumatoid arthritis medication leflunomide. When taken after the onset of the condition, it can help alleviate the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. The condition results in the slow erosion of cartilage and bone in the joints, and with proper administration of the medication, it is sometimes possible to slow this process.

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body's immune system begins to turn on healthy joint tissues, usually in the hands or wrists. Cells that normally attack foreign bodies go into the joints, and slowly begin to release substances into the cartilage that wear away the protective lining of the joints. This results in stiffness and can disfigure the joints, resulting in difficulty performing tasks requiring fine motor skills. Arava® works by affecting the immune system's ability to compromise the healthy joint tissue, thereby lessening the impact of rheumatoid arthritis. It also helps keep swelling to a minimum, reducing pain and inflammation in the afflicted joints.


Many healthcare professionals will prescribe a higher dose of Arava® to begin treatment and then continue the individual on a lower dose. It should be taken only when under medical supervision, as it can stay in the body for years after administration is stopped. This can be particularly dangerous to women who become pregnant after using the drug, as leflunomide can harm or even kill a fetus. It has also been found to cause liver disease in rare cases, or to make existing cases of liver disease worse. In order to remove Arava® from the bloodstream, another drug is required.

Most of the side effects associated with Arava® are mild, and can include symptoms indicative of an allergic reaction. A rash, dizziness, or itching can indicate that an individual is allergic to the drug. More common side effects such as nausea typically pass once the body adjusts to the drug. As the medication weakens the body's immune system, those taking it may find themselves more susceptible to infections or illness. Serious side effects can manifest themselves in rare cases; these include numbness in various parts of the body, swollen or tender spots, and a tendency to bruise easily.

Those with the numerous symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis may be on other medications to manage pain, swelling, and fever. Medical professionals should be aware of these other medications, as Arava® can interfere with some of them. Even herbal medications can have dangerous interactions, so it is vitally important to monitor all medications administered to an individual.



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