Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Terminology Tuesday: DMARDs (and a warning about antibiotics and C. diff)


DMARD stands for Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs. These drugs help to slow the effects of rheumatic diseases and are often the first lines of defense against further joint damage, especially in adults.

DMARDs include drugs like methotrexate, plaquenil, minocycline, arava, sulfasalazine, imuran, cyclosporine, xeljanz, and the biologics (Enbrel, Humira, Cimzia, Kineret, Orencia, Rituxan, Remicade, and Simponi).


These are likely drugs that you're used to hearing about. For children diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, they often try to stick with an NSAID first (check out next week for more information on that term). Steroids can also be used, but should be used more in the short term to limit side effects.

Someone with a rheumatic disease can end up on a combination of several of these medications, all of which impact your immune system. Steroids even do that!

Many of these drugs are used for other diseases as well, from autoinflammatory/autoimmune to cancer to more.

Rituxan, Remicade, and methotrexate are all used as treatments for some types of cancer in higher doses than a rheumatic patient would receive. Minocycline is an antibiotic, but has been used to fight RA and related diseases. Treatment with antibiotics doesn't work for all and there can be serious risks in that treatment, including C. diff which is horribly painful in addition to easily transmittable and potentially fatal.

I had C. diff in July of 2012. I let it go for nearly two weeks before doing anything because I thought I was just sick to my stomach or had food poisoning. The process to diagnosis involved collecting my own 'output' and taking it to the clinic.

So gross.

Honestly, with how long I let it go, I'm lucky that I didn't end up in the hospital - and that I didn't give it to my pregnant-at-the-time sister!

Moral of the story? Don't take antibiotics unless you have to.

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