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Ectopic Pregnancy: Managing Methotrexate Side Effects

Topic Overview

Methotrexate side effects are more likely to cause problems when treatment lasts for many months, which is common in cancer and rheumatoid arthritis treatment. But side effects do occur when methotrexate is given to end an ectopic pregnancy.

The most common side effects of methotrexate treatment for ectopic pregnancy are nausea and indigestion. Side effects vary from woman to woman. And some women do not experience any side effects. If you are treated with methotrexate, you will be followed closely by your doctor.

The suggestions below may help you manage methotrexate side effects. Tell your doctor about any symptoms you have during your treatment.

For nausea

  • Eat small meals more frequently instead of three large meals daily.
  • Ask your doctor about using an antinausea (antiemetic) medicine, such as prochlorperazine or ondansetron (Zofran) to prevent or reduce nausea.
  • Rest as much as possible.
  • Try to eliminate strong odors from your surroundings.
  • Do not use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and aspirin, which can increase the risk of stomach irritation.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

For fatigue

  • Plan several rest periods throughout the day.
  • Ask for help from family members or friends.

For lightheadedness or dizziness

  • Rest frequently.
  • Change positions slowly, especially when moving from a sitting to a standing position.
  • Allow others to assist you when you walk.

For a sore mouth and throat (stomatitis)

  • Avoid coffee, spicy and salty foods, and citrus fruits. These foods can further aggravate your sore mouth.
  • Eat soft foods such as ice cream, custards, or gelatin.
  • Rinse your mouth every 2 hours with a lukewarm saltwater solution. Mix 1 tsp (5 g) of table salt in 8 fl oz (240 mL) of lukewarm water. Do not swallow the saltwater solution, because it can upset your stomach.

For diarrhea

  • Eat mild foods, such as rice, dry toast or crackers, bananas, and applesauce. Avoid spicy foods, other fruits, alcohol, coffee, and dairy products.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised April 26, 2013

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