While there is no cure, there are treatments.Quick diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help keep the symptoms of the disease under control and lessen the chance of permanent damage to organs or tissues. Once a diagnosis is made, it’s very important that major organs (the central nervous system, kidneys, heart, lungs) are regularly monitored for problems. Treatment depends on the activity and extent of the disease—no two cases of lupus are alike. Researchers are actively looking for new medicines to replace ones that currently exist but which cause unpleasant side effects and reactions in many people.
Medicines used for lupus include:
- NSAIDS – nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve achy joints and arthritis in mild S.L.E. when pain is limited and organs are not affected.
- Antimalarial drugs – such as hydroxycholorquine, often prescribed for arthritis or skin problems.
- Corticosteroids – usually prednisone, used for major organ involvement. The dosage prescribed depends on which organs are involved, the severity of symptoms, and blood test results.
- Other Immunosuppressive agents – such as azathioprine, methotrexate, cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine, and mycophenolate mofetil. These very potent drugs help control the overactive but misdirected immune system in lupus patients. They help limit damage to major organs and are closely monitored to counter the potentially serious side effects and complications.
- During a “flare” – get plenty of rest.
- When in remission – exercise to increase joint flexibility and muscle strength.
- Avoid sunlight – since the sun can trigger a flare, always apply sunblock to your face and other exposed skin (365 days a year) and regularly wear hats and other protective clothing.
- Made de-stressing a priority – support groups, professional counseling, and talking with friends, family and physicians can helpo a lot. Exercise when you can. Learn relaxation techniques like deep breathing. Find what works for you.
- For fever over 100 degrees F – call your doctor.
- Get regular checkups – these usually include blood and urine tests.
- Ask questions – when in doubt, call your doctor.
- Tell your doctor right away about side effects ornew symptoms – help her know when a change in therapy might be needed.