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How is lupus treated?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Symptoms of lupus include joint pain and swelling and also may include swelling of the tissues around organs. Pain medicine and anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat pain and swelling. Medicated creams may be used to treat rashes associated with lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means the body's immune system is overactive. Immunosuppressant drugs are used to suppress the overactive immune system. Although not related to malaria, anti-malarial drugs seem to help with pain and fatigue and decrease flares.

Some people find the costs and side effects of drugs used to treat a chronic illness to be prohibitive. Because of this, some people with lupus may choose to explore alternative treatments. These include using fish oils or flaxseed in the diet or as supplements, trying specialized diets, visiting chiropractors and using various creams and ointments for skin rashes. Research is limited and no alternative treatments have been proven clinically to reduce or alleviate symptoms. Alternative treatments should only be tried in conjunction with and after discussion with your physician or other healthcare providers.

Lupus is treated with drugs that block your body's immune system. Some of these are prednisone, azathioprine, cyclophosphamide or cyclosporine. A newer medication, a monoclonal antibody called belimumab, is also available. Antimalarial drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, can also be used to help control lupus.

Each of these drugs can have its own side effects. Fortunately, these side effects are usually manageable for most people. Discuss your treatment with your doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.