Treating Lupus with a Motley of Drugs

The severity of Lupus symptoms determines the treatment approach your doctor will recommend. Treatment options also consider the impact of organ involvement and how symptoms affect your daily life.

Medications are commonly used to manage Lupus symptoms, along with self-care practices. These include:

  1. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Such as naproxen and ibuprofen, which alleviate pain, swelling, and fever associated with Lupus. While available over-the-counter, prescription-only stronger doses should be used cautiously due to potential side effects like stomach bleeding, kidney issues, and increased heart risk.
  2. Anti-malarial Drugs: Medications like hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), originally designed to treat malaria, are effective against Lupus symptoms. Possible side effects include upset stomach and rare retinal damage.
  3. Corticosteroids: Various types like Prednisone help counter Lupus inflammation, but long-term use can lead to side effects such as weight gain, bruising, bone thinning, high blood pressure, and diabetes, especially with higher doses and prolonged therapy.
  4. Immunosuppressants: Drugs like cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan), mycophenolate (Cellcept), leflunomide (Arava), and methotrexate (Trexall) suppress the immune system to treat Lupus. However, they come with risks such as increased infection susceptibility, decreased fertility, liver damage, and cancer potential.

In addition to medical treatment, lifestyle adjustments and home remedies can aid in managing Lupus:

  1. Adequate rest is crucial, as Lupus often causes persistent fatigue.
  2. Protection from the sun is vital to prevent exacerbation of skin rash; wear protective clothing, hats, long sleeves, and use sunscreen with high SPF.
  3. Exercise can aid recovery from flare-ups, reduce heart attack risk, combat depression, and promote well-being.
  4. Quit smoking to prevent worsening effects on the heart and blood vessels.
  5. A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains supports holistic health, although dietary restrictions may be necessary for conditions like high blood pressure, kidney damage, or gastrointestinal issues.
  6. Talk therapy and support groups can help alleviate depression and mood changes associated with Lupus.

Despite the challenges of Lupus, maintaining proper medication adherence and self-care practices can significantly improve quality of life.