Treatment for lupus -- also known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) -- depends on your symptoms and how severe they are. Treatment can help:
- Ease your symptoms
- Bring down inflammation
- Prevent and relieve flares
- Prevent organ damage and other health problems
If you have lupus, you may have joint pain and swelling, especially in your fingers, wrists, or knees. Sometimes you may have a fever. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can usually help you ease both of those problems.
You can buy them without a prescription. Sometimes they can irritate your stomach, so take them with food or milk. Also be aware that using NSAIDs, especially at higher doses increase your risk for heart attack or stroke.
Some medications used to treat malaria can also treat lupus. They are used to treat skin rashes, mouth sores, and joint pain. They may also reduce your risk of blood clots, which is a concern in some people with lupus.
Antimalarial drugs protect against skin damage from ultraviolet rays in sunlight and may protect your body against organ damage linked to lupus. Side effects like stomach upset tend to be rare and mild.
Lupus makes parts of your immune system overactive, so it attacks healthy tissue by mistake. Corticosteroids weaken this immune response. Your doctor may prescribe them if lupus causes problems in your heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, or blood vessels.
Taken as a pill or IV, corticosteroids work fast to ease the swelling, warmth, and soreness in joints caused by inflammation. They can also prevent long-term organ damage.
Corticosteroids can have serious side effects like:
- Greater chance of infections
- Fragile bones or bone damage, especially in the hip
- Muscle weakness
You may also have weight gain, bloating, and mood changes from taking corticosteroids. So your doctor will likely give you the lowest dose possible and taper them off if your symptoms go away for a time.