Finding out you have lupus can be worrisome and confusing. You probably have questions like “How did I get this?” or “What are my options?” While lupus is chronic and does not currently have a cure, it is treatable.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease, meaning your immune system attacks healthy tissues by mistake. Skin, joints, and internal organs are most likely to be affected by lupus. Since this disease affects several parts of your body, many different symptoms can arise. Your treatment will depend largely on the severity of your symptoms. One of our board-certified rheumatologists works with you to keep your symptoms under control, using the best treatment options available.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are, as their name suggests, anti-inflammatory drugs that help treat the inflammation, stiffness, and discomfort caused by lupus. They are much milder than most other drugs used to treat lupus, but can be effective in helping to control some of your symptoms. They can be used individually or in conjunction with other medications. There are over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as Advil, Motrin, and Aleve, but your doctor may prescribe you a stronger one.
NSAIDs work by preventing the formation of prostaglandins, which are molecules involved with your inflammatory response as well as normal bodily “maintenance.” In stopping the prostaglandins, you should experience less swelling and pain.
Originally used to treat malaria, drugs like hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, and quinacrine were found to also help treat multiple symptoms of lupus. These drugs have been shown to specifically help with skin rashes, inflammation of the lining of the heart or lungs, muscle pain, joint pain, fever, and fatigue. Antimalarials may also reduce flares and prevent lupus from spreading to other organs.
These may seem like the perfect treatment for lupus, but they, unfortunately, aren’t effective in treating more serious cases.
Steroids are naturally produced in your body and make up a large portion of hormones. One steroid, called cortisone, is closely related to cortisol, which is excreted as a natural anti-inflammatory hormone. Corticosteroids such as prednisone, prednisolone, and methylprednisolone are used to help treat the symptoms of lupus.
These medications work by helping to slow and stop the inflammatory responses and reducing your immune system activity by affecting the function of your white blood cells. The reduction in inflammation and immune response helps protect the tissues in your body that are being affected. While this treatment option is very effective, it’s typically reserved for when medications like NSAIDs and antimalarials are insufficient.
Immunosuppressants are typically used in more serious cases of lupus, when major organs like the brain, kidneys, or lungs are being affected. Originally used to help prevent recent transplant recipients from rejecting their new organs, immunosuppressants were also found to be helpful in treating autoimmune diseases like lupus. They’re sometimes used in addition to steroids, and may even reduce or eliminate your need for steroids.
As their name suggests, immunosuppressants suppress your immune system by interfering with the synthesis of DNA. This process keeps the cells of your immune system from dividing, which eventually causes them to die. While this is helpful in controlling the symptoms of lupus, immunosuppressants increase your risk of infection and possibly cancer.
In addition to one of the aforementioned treatments, some other medications may be needed to treat conditions that are often seen with lupus. These include:
Receiving treatment for lupus early is important in preventing lasting damage. Our team at Rheumatology Solutions is here to recommend the best treatment possible for you and help you feel better. Give us a call at 210-526-9798 or book an appointment online to begin managing your lupus symptoms and take your life back.