Lupus Fact Sheet

Treatments for Lupus


Although there is no cure for lupus, effective treatment can minimize symptoms, reduce inflammation, and maintain normal bodily functions for the vast majority of people with the disease. Medications often are prescribed for people with lupus, depending on which organs are involved, and the severity of involvement. Commonly prescribed medications include:

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) These drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, are usually recommended for muscle and joint pain, and arthritis.
Acetaminophen A mild analgesic used for pain, such as Tylenol.
Corticosteroids Synthetically produced corticosteroids, such as prednisone, are used to reduce inflammation and suppress activity of the immune system.
Anti-malarials These drugs, such as Plaquenil, are prescribed for skin and joint symptoms of lupus. It may take months before these drugs demonstrate a beneficial effect.
Immune modulating drugs These drugs, such as Imuran and Cytoxan, act in a similar manner to the corticosteroid drugs in that they suppress inflammation and tend to suppress the immune system.
Biologic drugs These drugs include agents that block the production of specific antibodies, like those against DNA, or agents that act to suppress the manufacture of antibodies through other mechanisms.
Many of these medications are toxic and can cause other serious health problems over time. While many potential new safe and effective medications are in various stages of clinical development, it has been nearly 40 years since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new therapy specifically for lupus.

In addition to taking prescribed medications, people with lupus can make lifestyle adjustments that help fight the disease and provide an improved sense of well-being. Preventive measures can reduce the risk of flares.
For photosensitive patients, avoidance of (excessive) sun exposure and the regular application of sunscreens will usually prevent rashes.
Regular exercise helps prevent muscle weakness and fatigue.
Immunization protects against specific infections; however, live virus vaccines are not recommended for people with lupus.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important get plenty of rest, reduce stress, eat a balanced diet, and quit smoking.

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