Getting Treated for Lupus

Lupus treatment options. Hero Images/ Digital Vision/ Getty Images

Initial diagnosis

After an initial diagnosis of lupus, and depending on the length and severity of symptoms, your doctor will determine the most appropriate treatment program for your specific condition.

If you're newly diagnosed and need some basic information about lupus, take a look at the following resources:

Medications for Lupus

One treatment option is medication. There are several drugs used to treat the symptoms of lupus, however, all have side effects because the drugs used for lupus are primarily used for other purposes. Lupus symptoms can be unpredictable and vary from patient to patient, therefore you and your doctor may need to take a “trial and error” approach when deciding your best course of treatment.

  • Steroids – these are used for combating the inflammation of the disease but may cause weight gain, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and/or increased risk of infection. Most doctors try to used the lowest dose of steroids for the shortest time possible because of these side effects.
  • Immunosuppressants (Imuran (azathioprine), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide)) – these drugs are used to tone down the immune response of the body, but have the most serious side effects (increased risk of infection, cancer, and anemia) and are usually reserved for those with the most severe forms of systemic disease.
  • Antimalarials (Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine)) – primarily used for treating malaria, these drugs can be used to treat the mucosal (nose and mouth) ulcers and skin and joint problems associated with lupus. One side effect can be corneal problems with prolonged use.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (Advil (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen)) – these can be used to reduce joint pain and inflammation, but lupus patients have been known to develop side effects from these drugs.

Complementary Therapies

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