Professor of Rheumatology in Ankara. Dr. Umut Kalyoncu said that it is vital to regularly follow up chronic rheumatological diseases. Kalyoncu emphasized the importance of drugs, drawing attention to rheumatology patients who gave up drugs that suppress the immune system, especially during the pandemic period. Kalyoncu noted that there was no change in the first 1-2 weeks in patients who quit the drug, but that joint pain increased within 1 to 3 months.
Stating that almost all rheumatological diseases are chronic diseases that need to be followed up regularly, Kalyoncu said, “We give immunomodulators to a significant portion of our patients. These drugs have their own possible side effects. Therefore, it is important to regularly monitor the complaints of patients. For example, our patients using drugs such as ‘methotrexate’, ‘leflunomide’, ‘salazopyrin’ should have liver and kidney tests and blood counts at regular intervals.
‘6 MONTHS REGULAR FOLLOW UP IS IMPORTANT’
Kalyoncu also said about the frequency of routine controls in rheumatological diseases, “It is a situation that varies from patient to patient, but suppose that the patient does not have any complaints, in this case, regular follow-up is required every 6 months. Apart from that, we invite our patients for a control between 6 weeks and 3 months in cases where we start a new treatment and want to see the result. In a patient group where everything goes very well, there are rare cases where we recommend a follow-up once a year. A regular follow-up is very important for rheumatological diseases, “he said.
‘PATIENTS SHOULD NOT STOP DRUG IN THIS PROCESS’
Stating that those with rheumatological diseases should be more careful during the pandemic period, Kalyoncu said:
“Because we know that it can have serious consequences. The drugs used by people with a rheumatological disease have the potential to increase this risk a little. A significant portion of our patients experience fear during this period. Some neglect their controls in order not to come to the hospital. As a matter of fact, some drugs suppress the immune system during the pandemic period. Those with rheumatological diseases should not stop taking their medication during the pandemic period.Although they do not feel much for the first 1-2 weeks after stopping the medication, joint complaints flared within 1 to 3 months and started to appear very often.
Our patients think that they can manage in the first weeks, but unfortunately, the disease flares up after the effect of the drugs we give is a little long-lasting. In this case, we have to increase the treatment and sometimes add cortisone / steroid. These are the most unwanted situations. For these reasons, we recommend our patients not to disrupt their treatment.
Important recommendations of the rheumatology societies in Europe and America are that rheumatological patients should not stop their medication. The disease gets worse when they stop taking the medication, and the risk of contracting infections such as coronavirus increases after their illness flares. Not only is it caught, but the risk of the disease to progress worse increases after it is caught. “