Leflunomide side effects or not

So after failing on three dmards I've been put on leflunomide (Arava). The rheumatologist is trying a slow build up. So I've done two weeks taking a tablet every other day and now I'm in to my second week of taking it daily (10mg). I feel pretty awful. My RA has worsened and I feel like I've got the flu. Sore throat, tickly cough, muscle pain and the worst fatigue I've ever felt. I can barely get up in a morning because I feel like I've done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. I also get waves of nausea and an odd feeling like I'm going to pass out. My eyesight also seems to gave been affected. Suddenly I can't read small print that I could before and glasses that were too strong for me last week aren't powerful enough now.

Does any of this sound familiar. I'm trying to persist with it as I have a rheumy appointment in three weeks

8 Replies

  • I've been on leflunomide since November. Started at 10mg. The only side effects I've experienced were awful back ache. I've been very tired lately, but I think that's the illness not drug.

  • I had a lot of pan but it did go after a couple of weeks. I cried it hurt so much then bang it went. But no eye problems or sore throat but we are all different. So ring your RA consultant or nurse for advice. I hope you feel better soon I feel great now.

  • Like Nettac I also started LEF in November, started on 10mg daily which I'm still taking, we discussed the loading dose but decided against it. I had a slight delay starting it because it was recommended I had the Pneumovax injection before I did. I be had no side effects except a little hair loss which had now settled & higher than normal BP initially, again now settled. Have you read the patient information leaflet? It may be helpful to, personally I'd report your side effects, even though you've a Rheumy appointment relatively soon, especially if you also have a temperature. It could be the start of a cold but then again it may not.

    Let us know how things go. x

  • I've just stopped LEF after 3 months on it. No beneficial effect, sadly, but no nasty side effects either. I was on 20mg a day at the end.

    Take notes of how you are feeling each day, to present to the doctor. Just simple reviews with perhaps a number indicating pain, loss of function in hands, pain in the back - that sort of thing.

    It does sound as if you're not doing too well on LEF. Do you have a rheumy nurse or perhaps a call number? I'd let them know you have having these symptoms, as nomoreheals suggests.


  • 20 mg a day since November. I feel better than I have for a long time. Fewer side effects than methotrexate. I've stopped taking painkillers and am trying to improve my gut which was rather upset due to them. Probiotic yoghurt every morning seems to help.

  • Hi don't mess about with this drug you must contact your rhumy helpline asap. Don't wait for your next appointment. I am about to start on this just twice a week because I have failed on 3 three others including Benapali (allergic reactions). You may need to stop taking it.

  • 10 mgs a day for about 3 weeks. Now have itchy spots on hands, lower arms, feet and lower legs. I might be allergic to it. If gets any worse, I'll need to stop it and try the next drug...

  • Hi Frankiefarr

    I started Leflunomide a year ago and my first 4 weeks were weeks from hell. I was so tired I didn't know what to do with myself. It did wear off though. I did have the same problem when I started on MTX too.

    I am still taking Leflunomide but I found it doesnt do anything for me - now taking MTX, Lef and Benepali. However I do now have a high BP issue (whilst already maxed out on BP medication) - having just read another post on Lef I wonder if it relates to this med.

    I would check this out with your Rheumy (maybe get an up to date blood test result) but all being well hold out a little longer and see if your body gets used to it.

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