Several treatment options are available to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Some may be better suited for you than others. Speak to your doctor about the treatment options that work best for you.
Treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition for which there is no known cure. In the last few years, a shift in the strategy towards the earlier institution of disease-modifying drugs and the availability of new classes of drugs have greatly improved the outcomes that most patients can expect. The treatment goal is to achieve the lowest possible level of arthritis disease activity and remission, minimizing stiffness and pain, enhancing physical function, and thus improving the overall quality of life. The most common treatment options are oral medications that reduce joint stress and inflammation. One of the classes of drugs commonly used in treating rheumatoid arthritis is diseases modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Plaquenil comes under the category of DMARDs and is extremely effective in reducing pain-associated symptoms. It has been shown to alter the disease course and improve outcomes. The disease-modifying arthritis drug contains the active ingredient Hydroxychloroquine, first used to treat and prevent malaria. Today it is prescribed to treat rheumatoid arthritis symptoms of lupus and childhood arthritis, also known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis. It is still unknown why this anti-rheumatoid drug is effective in treating autoimmune diseases. Experts believe that HCQ interferes with the communication of cells in the immune system.
Alternative for Plaquenil
Plaquenil is a brand-name drug, and its generic version is available as Hydroxychloroquine HCQ. Both are considered disease-modifying antirheumatic drug that decreases the pain and swelling of arthritis. Those looking for a Plaquenil alternative may go with the generic version-Hydroxychloroquine. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in brand-name medicine. The generic versions are safe and effective as the original ones. Moreover, Generic drugs tend to cost less than brand-name drugs.
HCQ or Hydroxychloroquine is an antimalarial agent that is relatively safe and well tolerated for treating rheumatoid arthritis. The drug can prevent joint damage and is effective in treating mild symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. HCQ is sometimes combined with methotrexate for additive benefits for providing symptomatic relief.
The mechanism of action of HCQ in the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis is still not known, but it is thought to have effects on the innate immune system.
Usage & Working
Hydroxychloroquine is available in the form of tablets before or after consuming food. Your doctor will advise you on the correct dose. Usually, the treatment begins on a full dose of 200 to 400 mg daily, and later your doctor may reduce this as the symptoms start to subside. Once your condition is well controlled, you may be advised to take this medicine only 2 to 3 times per week.
Neither Plaquenil nor Hydroxychloroquine tablet works immediately. It may take up to twelve weeks or longer before you notice any benefit. Because it is a long-term treatment, it is important to keep taking medicine unless you have serious side effects, even when your symptoms improve.
Side effects & Risks
Side effects of HCQ are not common; however, in some individuals, this drug can cause diarrhoea, headaches, nausea, indigestion, skin rashes, tinnitus, visual problems, diarrhoea, and visual problems. HCQ can damage a part of the inside of the eye called the retina. This increase is greater with long-term use and higher dosage. Your doctor will advise you on a safe dose to take as per your weight, and you may need regular monitoring of your eyes. Moreover, it is best to have an eye exam once a year and tell them you are taking Hydroxychloroquine. Report any new symptoms to your doctor straight away. If you get any new symptoms or anything else that concerns you after taking HCQ, you should tell your doctor as soon as possible.
Effects on other treatments
Hydroxychloroquine is commonly used with other disease-modifying drugs, including methotrexate, especially for treating rheumatoid arthritis. However, some drugs can interact with HCQ. Medicine used for indigestion can stop HCQ drugs from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Before taking any indigestion remedy like antacids or over-the-counter formulation, you should wait at least four hours after taking Hydroxychloroquine. Discuss any new medicine with your doctor before you take them, and always mention you are on the anti-rheumatoid drug if you are treated with another medical condition by another health care specialist.
Hydroxychloroquine is a Plaquenil 200mg alternative for rheumatoid arthritis. It works by changing the way your immune system works. This disease-modifying antirheumatic drug tries to slow down the immune system. Both medicines are the same and safe to use in rheumatoid arthritis.