...less medical jargon in a 'Quick Glance' format!
Gold Side Effects:
Up to a third of patients on gold therapy commonly experience gold side effects involving the skin and the mucous membranes of the mouth, including oral ulcers (like canker sores), altered taste and skin rashes. Skin side effects vary but usually include itching or mild rashes. Occasionally patients develop a more serious rash requiring medical attention. These side effects typically occur during the first year of therapy, but can appear at any time. Most will subside following discontinuation of therapy.
Gold also can affect the kidneys or the blood cells. Most kidney problems are mild and do not cause long-term complications. Oral gold tablets seem to cause fewer kidney problems, but increase the risk of diarrhea. A small proportion of patients taking gold experience a reduction in the number of blood cells, usually the platelets. In less than 1 percent of patients, red cell count may be lowered, causing anemia. Your doctor will perform periodic blood and urine tests while you are on this medication, because these side effects do not always cause symptoms.
More unusual side effects include an inflammation of the intestines called enterocolitis, liver injury or lung disease. Although these conditions can be serious, they occur very rarely.
Occasionally, patients experience a reaction after receiving gold injections. Most of these reactions include symptoms of stiffness, joint or muscle aches, or fatigue, which occur within a day of the injection and may last up to 5 days. Less commonly, patients experience nausea and vomiting, weakness, sweating, palpitations or flushing. These symptoms generally do not cause any real problems but may require switching to a more tolerable therapy.
..... How does it work?
It is not known exactly how gold compounds help rheumatoid arthritis. It appears that gold affects the process that causes the joint pain and swelling. Until the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is discovered, the way in which gold seems to slow down the disease process probably will remain a mystery.
.....How long does it take to work?
Gold works slowly and gradually. Most people begin to notice a difference within two to six months after they start taking it.
..... How long will the effects last?
Your gold treatment may become less effective after several years. There is no way to predict how long gold will continue to benefit you. But you should continue to take it as long as your arthritis improves and you don't have any serious side effects. If you stop taking the medicine while it still benefits you, your arthritis may become active again within several months.
.....How is it given?
Gold can either be injected into a muscle in the buttock or arm, or be taken in capsule form by mouth (oral gold). You and your doctor can decide which form is best for you. In general, oral gold may cause fewer side effects, but may not be as effective as injectable gold.