How is Lupus treated?
There is no known cure for lupus at present. The disease can also often be life threatening in so many ways. However, in spite of these two facts, the course of the disease can be effectively managed and most patients go on to live, long, normal and healthy lives.
How complex to manage lupus?
Managing lupus can be complex though. As the symptoms and actual disease patterns in lupus are very different in individuals so also the treatment regimens prescribed by the doctor are custom made for each patient.
What kind of specialist a lupus patient need to consult?
Once diagnosed, a lupus patient needs to consult various specialists according to the systems that are involved in her particular case. For instance, if the patient presents with joint pains she would need to consult a rheumatologist and if there are skin lesions she would have to be treated by a skin specialist and so on. There will not be just one single doctor attending to the symptoms of a patient unless her symptoms are very system specific.
The main aims of a treatment regimen are:
- To manage the symptoms such as fatigue, joint pains, so that the patient is comfortable.
- To prevent flares.
- Treat flares when they occur.
- Reduce organ damage and other problems.
Medications may include anti-inflammatory medication, immune-suppression medication, corticosteroids, and anticoagulants to
- Reduce swelling and pain
- Prevent or reduce flares
- Help the immune system
- Reduce or prevent damage to joints
- Manage skin lesions
Common treatment options include
1.Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs):
These help to decrease joint swelling and pain, fever, skin rashes, fatigue and inflammation of the heart and lung linings. NSAID drugs include ibuprofen and naproxen. Some of these drugs can cause serious side effects like stomach bleeding or kidney damage.
Hydroxychloroquine is one drug that is prescribed for every patient with lupus. It is effective for lupus related arthritis, fatigue, rashes, and mouth sores. It has been seen to prevent flares.
3.Corticosteroids and immune suppressants:
Patients with serious or life-threatening problems such as kidney inflammation, lung or heart involvement, and central nervous system symptoms may need high-dose corticosteroids such as prednisone. They also need drugs that suppress the immune system such as azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine and the new mycophenolate mofetil. Most immune-suppressing medications require close monitoring. They may cause side effects such as a raised risk of infections, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, diarrhea, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis (weak bones).
New drugs specific for active SLE treatment which are rituximab and belimumab or Benlysta. These decrease the number of antibodies in the blood thus reducing the autoimmune effect of the disease and the ensuing organ damage.
5.Medications for lupus problems :
Medications for problems related to lupus such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or infection.
6.Bone marrow transplants :
Bone marrow transplants and genetically altered T cells that could retrain the body to no longer attack itself might soon become part of the regimen.
Each treatment carries its own risks. Thus the dose of a drug may be reduced or a medication stopped because of its side effects or when the disease goes into remission.
Treatment plans :
Over time treatments have to be adapted according to how the disease progresses. Treatment plans often need to be changed when symptoms flare up or new symptoms appear. Thus, new medications are put into use while previous medications that once worked so well may need to be trashed.
Is treatment help us?
In most cases, treatments are very effective. Also presently much research is ongoing to find new means of treating and perhaps one day being able to cure the disease.