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Treatment of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

When you are diagnosed with lupus, your doctor will work on a treatment plan for you based on your symptoms, age, gender, etc. Since there is no cure for lupus, your doctor will only be able to treat and minimize your symptoms. As you get older, the plan may change. There are several goals in developing a treatment plan. Ideally your doctor will want to prevent flares from happening at all. If flares do happen, your doctor will want to do his or her best to minimize any damage or complications that come from the flares. If you treatment plan is not working, you may need to go over it again with your doctor and see if any changes are needed.

There are three categories of drugs to treat lupus:

Corticosteroids counter inflammation but can have long-term side effects, such as increased risk of infection, easy bruising, thinning bones, weight gain, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The higher your dose and the longer you are on the medication, the greater the chance of side effects. Your doctor will probably prescribe a low dose, or have you take the drug on alternating days.

Antimalarial drugs help treat lupus symptoms and signs. There is no known relationship between malaria and lupus, but these medications help prevent flares of the disease. Side effects include muscle weakness and vision problems.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). Some symptoms can be treated with aspirin or other NSAIDs such as Aleve and ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) Stong NSAIDs are prescribed by your doctor, and others are available over the counter, but even though you can buy them easily, you should check with your doctor before taking them because some have caused serious side effects for lupus patients. Stomach bleeding and heart problems are possible side effects.

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