Due to the complexity of lupus, the treatment for the disease can take various forms, consisting of an extensive range of medications and therapies aimed at easing the lupus symptoms and preventing the occurrence of further complications. Due to the fact that the immune system has a major contribution to the occurrence and the progression of lupus, (harming the body’s own healthy cells and tissues instead of fighting against antigens) the disease can affect any part of the body, determining impairments of multiple body systems.
The treatment of lupus greatly differs from a patient to another, lupus sufferers receiving a certain type of medications according to their experienced symptoms and the seriousness of the disease. Thus, the treatment of lupus is often personalized, comprising many different types of medications and therapies. Lupus patients (especially patients diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus) are commonly administered combination treatments, targeted at countering the occurrence and aggravation of the multitude of symptoms characteristic to this type of autoimmune disease.
Although at present there is no specific cure for lupus, the existing treatments can greatly ameliorate the symptoms of the disease and minimize the risk of complications. Lupus often has an unpredictable pattern of progression, producing symptoms that come and go over time. Thus, most lupus treatments are aimed at prolonging the periods of remission and ameliorating the phases of relapse. Once a patient is diagnosed with lupus, he/she will receive a treatment according to age, gender, overall health condition, symptomatic intensity, as well as lifestyle. With the right medication plan, patients can keep the disease under control and even live normal and healthy lives. Today’s treatments are efficient in easing the symptoms of lupus and they also allow patients to carry on with their usual daily activities. Most patients with lupus don’t require prolonged hospitalization and bed confinement is rarely needed.
The treatment of lupus is individualized, aiming to meet the needs and symptoms of the patient. For instance, for patients who suffer from musculoskeletal conditions due to lupus, doctors commonly prescribe treatments with medications that reduce inflammation and pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are extensively administered to patients confronted with symptoms such as joint swelling, stiffness and pain, muscular weakness and fever.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can either be administered alone or in combination with similar medications. Due to the fact that such medications can produce serious side-effects, it is recommendable to avoid long-term use. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be administered only during the periods of relapse, when the symptoms of lupus suddenly increase in intensity. Popular NSAIDs are: ibuprofen, naproxen, sulindac, diclofenac, ketoprofen, diflunisal, nabumetone, indometacin and oxaprozin. In order to minimize their side-effects, you should respect your doctor’s exact instructions when using such medications.
Another type of commonly used medications are antimalarials. Originally prescribed in the treatment of malaria, these medications are also efficient in the treatment of lupus, as they tend to suppress a series of processes at the level of the immune system, neutralizing some of its undesirable effects on the organism. Antimalarials used in the treatment of lupus include: hydrochloroquine (Plaquenil), quinacrine (Atabrine) and chloroquine (Aralen). These commonly used lupus medications are prescribed to ease fatigue, joint inflammation and pain, skin rashes and inflammation of the lungs and heart. Unlike NSAIDs, antimalarials have less serious side-effects, rendering them appropriate for long-term treatments. Ongoing treatment with antimalarials can efficiently prevent the occurrence of flares.
Corticoid steroids are often prescribed in the treatment of lupus. Corticosteroided hormones such as prednisone, hydrocortisone, methylprednisolone and dexamethasone are usually prescribed in small doses to reduce inflammation. Due to the fact that these medications can produce serious side-effects, they are only prescribed in short-term treatments. For patients confronted with severe forms of lupus, doctors usually prescribe immunosuppressive drugs such as azathioprine and cyclophosphamide. The main action of immunosuppressive medications is to minimize the damage caused by the impaired, overactive immune system at cellular level. Although immunosuppressive drugs are very efficient in easing the symptoms of lupus, they are known to cause dependency and thus they shouldn’t be prescribed in long-term treatments.
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