How Do Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs Affect My Immune System?

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In general, when you're treating rheumatoid arthritis, since our medicine all affect different parts of the immune system, and for instance, the TNF inhibitors block TNF, then ibuprofen effects of [xx], and then the steroids, corticosteroids have, sort of, a global effect on the immune system.

In general, because corticosteroids have so many side effects, we try to use them in short periods of time or in low doses if we are going to have to use it for a long period of time, and there is sort of a bridge for us. So if you have a flair then we might give you a burst of steroids and try and taper you off, and what I always say to my patients, is it's the tortes in the hair.

So the hair is the one that gets out quicker, that's the corticosteroids. Anybody who has ever been on one will say, it's a miracle. It made me feel terrific. But in the long run, the one that wins the race is the demur[sp?], either a methotrexate type medicine or a biologic type medicine, because in the end that helps us get off the steroids.

So we call those steroids sparing agents, meaning they let us to use the lowest dose of steroids or hopefully no steroids. You can't have a side effect from the medicine you don't take. So the idea is to make it as simple as possible, but to use as much as you need.