What are the Most Common Methotrexate Side Effects?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Methotrexate is serious medicine, designed for conditions unresponsive to other treatment or incurable by other means. People might take methotrexate if they have certain cancers or the drug can be used to treat the most resistant forms of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis; it may have additional uses. The reason this medication is treated with such caution is due to very serious side effects it may cause. In some instances, these are the most common methotrexate side effects and other times, these responses are rare and occur in only a few people.

Methotrexate might be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis that doesn't respond to less-agressive treatment.
Methotrexate might be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis that doesn't respond to less-agressive treatment.

A person may first want to know what are the most common methotrexate side effects, particularly if they’re going to be taking the drug. A percentage of people may note more than one side effect like hair loss and nausea and vomiting. Others develop drowsiness, periodic headaches, or difficulty sustaining appetite. Some people feel dizzy when they take methotrexate and others have discomfort with eyelids or gums, both of which may become irritated, red, or swollen.

Vomiting may be a side effect of methotrexate.
Vomiting may be a side effect of methotrexate.

It’s also the case that methotrexate by its action makes people much more vulnerable to infections. People should use care to avoid others who are sick and should be certain to have close following by a physician when ill. Colds and respiratory illnesses are more likely to develop into bacterial illness, and this could be said to be one of the most common methotrexate side effects.

Females develop rheumatoid arthritis three times more often than males.
Females develop rheumatoid arthritis three times more often than males.

Many people do not experience the most common methotrexate side effects. They may notice no differences while taking the medication. Others have transient experience of some of the symptoms and find they go away over time. It’s important to note that unless these symptoms become really difficult, such as profuse vomiting that does allow a person to eat or drink or inability to recover from infections, these side effects are not the ones that promote most worry in the medical community.

Headaches are a side effect of methotrexate.
Headaches are a side effect of methotrexate.

Instead, rarer methotrexate side effects are of much greater concern. In one case, one side effect will only occur in women who are pregnant. Since methotrexate tends to cause death of tissue, it is linked to a very high rate of fetal death and birth defects. This medication is not advised for pregnant women and the side effects of it, might very well cause pregnancy loss frequently.

Other reactions that are not the most common methotrexate side effects need to be reported to doctors immediately. These include sudden weakness, dramatic changes in vision, any form of seizure, or a person developing confusion or becoming unconscious. Any form of skin reaction needs immediate medical attention, as does vomiting blood, black stools, ulcers in the mouth, or accumulation of fluid in the stomach or chest.

Due to the potential for serious and life-threatening problems with this drug, use should be weighed carefully. Patients taking methotrexate need careful monitoring and should comply with any requests for blood testing issued by doctors. The drug is definitely useful, but powerful, and with a long list of potential side effects, due caution is required.

Methotrexate is linked to high rates of fetal death and birth defects.
Methotrexate is linked to high rates of fetal death and birth defects.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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