Although some early and mild cases of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be effectively treated with oral medications, most doctors recommend their patients are treated via infusion instead. However, you do not necessarily have to go this route. If you strongly feel that infusions are not right for you, there are oral medications than can do an okay job of reducing your symptoms. Infusions are generally recommended because they are the most beneficial. Here's a look at the predominant benefits associated with infusions.
The Medications Are More Effective.
There are all sorts of very specific RA medications that can only be delivered via infusion. These include tocilizumab, a medication that works by blocking a protein that causes the joint pain and swelling associated with RA. Another example is rituximab, which targets the B cells of your immune system and helps slow down the progression of the disease. Oral medications taken for RA tend to be less-specific immunosuppressants, so while they help, they are not as effective or specified as medications you can receive via infusion.
You'll Be Under the Supervision of a Medical Professional.
Side effects are unfortunately common with RA medications, and with any medication that modulates the immune system, for that matter. If you have infusions, however, you will be in a doctor's office and surrounded by medical staff for the duration of your treatment. If you do start experiencing any side effects, like nausea or lightheadedness, they will be recognized and dealt with quickly and safely.
You Will Only Need to Visit the Doctor Every Few Weeks.
While it will take a few hours for you to get an infusion, the time commitment is not that big overall. With some variation between medications and patients, most people need treatment every two weeks for about two months. Then, they only need follow-up visits approximately every 6 to 8 weeks. Attending one appointment now and then is easier, in some ways, than taking an oral medication every day. You can even read a book or listen to podcasts during your treatments, so you don't have to feel like you're wasting this time or being unproductive.
While some patients do okay on oral medications, there will probably come a time when your doctor recommends infusion therapy for your RA. When this time comes, think through the decision, but also know that your doctor is recommending an infusion because it's the best treatment out there.
For more information about infusions, contact a provider like Idaho Arthritis Center.