Methotrexate is prescribed for the treatment of several conditions including certain types of cancers (breast, skin, head and neck, or lung) and psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.
However, your doctor may also prescribe Methotrexate for other conditions if found appropriate.
How to use Methotrexate
The ideal way to use Methotrexate is to follow the instructions of your doctor. An alternative way is to check the medicine label for dosage instructions.
Methotrexate may be taken with or without a meal. Methotrexate should be taken with a full glass of water.
Preferably, Methotrexate should be taken at the same time each day to help maintain a regular routine for taking it.
It may be weeks before you start noticing the effects of the drug.
You must not stop taking Methotrexate without consulting your doctor even if you attain relief after a short while post starting treatment.
Drug Class and Mechanism
Methotrexate is an antimetabolite that works by inhibiting an enzyme needed for cell growth. This in turn stops cancer cells from replicating and spreading in the body. Its working to stop inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis is unknown.
It is important that you maintain a strict schedule for taking Methotrexate to ensure that you do not miss any doses. But if you do, then you may take it as soon as you remember provided that you space out the next dosage accordingly.
On the other hand, if it is almost time for the next dose, then omit this dose and continue with your normal dosage schedule.
Never consume two doses to compensate for a missed dosage.
Store Methotrexate at 77 degrees F (15 and 25 Degrees), at room temperature. Ensure that you protect it from direct exposure to heat/moisture/light and from the reach of children and pets.
Avoid storing Methotrexate in the bathroom.
Consult your doctor before using Methotrexate if you have conditions like, if you have any kind of allergies to food items, medicines or other substances, if you are using some kind of herbal preparation, dietary supplement, prescription or non prescription drug.
Do not use Methotrexate if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in it (read medicine label if unsure), you are treating psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis and you are pregnant or breast-feeding; you are treating psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis and abuse alcohol or have liver problems, an immunodeficiency syndrome (e.g., AIDS), bone marrow problems, or blood problems (e.g., anemia, low white blood cell count, low platelet count); you have moderate or severe kidney problems; you are taking acitretin.
You must avoid taking alcoholic beverages while using Methotrexate as it can increase the chances of becoming drowsy, faint or dizzy. Potentially hazardous tasks like driving, handling heavy machinery should also be avoided.
Most patients experience Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite while taking the drug. You may talk to your doctor or pharmacist for ways to combat this.
Take care not to get dehydrated even if you have diarrhea or vomiting.
Methotrexate is known to reduce the number of blood clotting cells in your body and also weaken your immune system. So you must avoid situations which may lead to injury or bruising. Also avoid contact with people who have infections like cold and flu.
If you notice bloody or tarry stools, then contact your doctor immediately for it may be a sign of internal bleeding.
Methotrexate should not be combined with drugs called Nitrates (prescribed for chest pain) or Poppers (recreational drugs), as the combination can suddenly drop your blood pressure to fatal levels.
Do not receive a live vaccine (measles, mumps etc) while using Methotrexate.
You should use an alternative form of birth control while using the drug because it tends to reduce the efficiency of hormonal birth control pills.
If you are pregnant or have plans for a pregnancy, then consult your doctor before using Methotrexate as Methotrexate may harm your fetus.
If you are breast feeding then please maintain caution as it is unknown whether Methotrexate is passed into the breast milk. So please consult your doctor prior to using it.
You must inform your doctor or your dentist about Methotrexate before you undergo treatment or any emergency surgery.
You may be required to undergo certain lab tests including albumin levels, complete blood counts, and liver, lung, and kidney function, while taking Methotrexate. These tests are prescribed to monitor the progress as well as the severity of side effects. Please do not miss any lab appointments.
Methotrexate is known to make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. So excessive sun exposure without using protection (sunscreen or protective clothing) or exposure to tanning booths and sunlamps must be avoided.
Please maintain caution while using Methotrexate in children below 2 years of age as the safety as well as effectiveness of Methotrexate in these patients are yet to be ascertained.
Use with caution in elderly patients as they may be more prone to its side effects.
Please remember that Methotrexate does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases like HIV or against an unwanted pregnancy.