Why am I being prescribed cyclosporin?
Cyclosporin is used for rheumatoid arthritis to reduce pain, swelling and stiffness. It is also used for a number of other conditions such as psoriatic arthropathy, systemic lupus erythematosus, vasculitis and inflammatory muscle disease.
When do I take cyclosporin?
Cyclosporin comes as 25mg capsules. It is usually taken twice a day, with food to reduce stomach upset. Do not take cyclosporin with grapefruit juice.
What dose do I take?
Your doctor will advise you about the correct dose. Usually you will start on a low dose, and your doctor may increase this if necessary. The dose you are given will depend on your body weight and kidney function (how well your kidneys are working).
Cyclosporin is not a pain-killer. So if you are on pain-killers you may continue to take these as well, unless your doctor advises otherwise.
How long will cyclosporin take to work?
Cyclosporin does not work immediately. It may take up to 4 months to produce a beneficial effect.
What are the possible side-effects?
Two possible side-effects of cyclosporin are a rise in blood pressure and effect on the kidneys.
In some people cyclosporin can cause nausea, diarrhoea, gum overgrowth, tiredness, and excess hair growth. It can also produce a mild tremor. Sometimes a burning sensation of the hands and feet occurs early in treatment. Cyclosporin can also affect the liver but this seems to occur only with doses much higher than those used for arthritis.
Side-effects of cyclosporin may get better if the dose is reduced.
Do I need any special checks while on cyclosporin?
Because cyclosporin can affect the kidneys and blood pressure, your doctor will arrange for you to have regular blood and urine tests and checks on blood pressure. You may be asked to keep a record booklet with your test results. Bring this with you when you visit your doctor. It is important to have regular blood tests while on cyclosporin.
Can I take other medicines along with cyclosporin?
In rheumatoid arthritis cyclosporin may be prescribed with other drugs, for example, methotrexate.
Some other drugs interact with cyclosporin and you should always tell any doctor treating you that you are taking cyclosporin. You should not take ‘over-the-counter’ preparations without discussing this first with your doctor. However, many drugs can be safely taken with cyclosporin.
Can I have immunisation while on cyclosporin?
You should avoid immunisation which involve any of the live vaccines such as BCG, mumps, measles, polio and rubella (German Measles).
Does cyclosporin affect pregnancy?
It is best not to take cyclosporin when pregnant. If you are planning a family or if you become pregnant while taking cyclosporin you should discuss this with your doctor as soon as possible. It is advisable not to breast feed while taking cyclosporin.