What is azathioprine?

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Azathioprine refers to a drug that basically acts to suppress the activity of the body’s immune system.  Although the immune system is designed to activate whenever there are signs of infection or microorganism intrusion, there are certain instances and medical conditions that can be alleviated by suppressing it.  With this main action, Azathioprine is commonly prescribed for arthritic conditions that are classified as auto-immune. These conditions include rheumatic arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE among many others. These arthritic conditions involve the immune systems’ inability to identify which cells are good and which are not.  With this effect, the immune system will attack the body’s own healthy cells and produce inflammatory changes such as those found in some types of arthritis. By suppressing the immune system, the inflammatory process in rheumatoid arthritis will be stopped by Azathioprine. The pain and swelling associated with this condition will then subside and the joints involved will also be preserved in terms of function and mobility.

Azathioprine is also widely used for patients that had just undergone kidney transplant or surgery.  In this particular case, the immune system needs to be suppressed with its normal activities in order to decrease the chances of rejection of the new kidney. With a suppressed immune system, the body will basically have a more conducive environment for the new kidney in terms of its function.

Dosage of Azathioprine depends on the medical condition it is prescribed for.  This drug is commonly associated with stomach upsets and therefore many doctors advise that it be taken during meal time. For patients that encounter fever and dizziness or nausea, these must be reported to their respective doctors immediately as these symptoms may indicate an allergy or infection. Patients under Azathioprine medication should also be regularly monitored for possible liver or pancreatic infection and involvement.

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