Question: Why does my doctor have to repeat blood tests during my drug treatment for rheumatoid arthritis?
Answer: As a person that doesn't like to have my blood drawn, I can understand your concerns with that question. Blood-drawing is very important to monitor the internal organs of the body as well as the blood in medications that could potentially be toxic to a person in the form of side effects.
For example, methotrexate is a disease modifying agent for rheumatoid arthritis widely used that can affect the liver as well as the blood counts. And so when we have a patient on it, we check the blood test between every four to eight weeks -- checking a blood count, a liver panel, as well as measuring markers of inflammation.
This is true of many of our other drugs. They have specific toxicities that we do like to measure certain side effects on. And that's our job as rheumatologists is to make sure that we are keeping you safe and attempting to do no harm with our hopefully very beneficial treatments.
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