Lupus is an autoimmune disease affecting different tissues of the body and causing their inflammation. When we say some disease is autoimmune it means that the human him/herself starts to react and produce antibodies to its own tissue. The same thing happens to people diagnosed with lupus and in these patients their own immune system creates abnormal antibodies which target some tissue in the body.
Where Can Lupus Appear?
Since human body possesses antibodies and inflammation cells in all parts, this means lupus can affect any tissue or area of the organism. Lupus can provoke skin disease, but also some heart, joint, nervous system, kidney or lung problems.
Lupus may also be isolated only on the skin, without any internal disease. This type of lupus is known as discoid lupus, while the disease which affects some internal organs is usually called systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE.
Lupus Treatment Options
SLE can’t be permanently cured, so the primary goal is to help the patient by easing the symptoms and decreasing autoimmune activity and inflammation in the body. In general, mild symptoms don’t require any medical treatment or only some occasional anti-inflammatory drugs. However, serious cases of this disease could be associated with some organ damage and have to be treated, usually with corticosteroid drugs and immune suppressants.
For mild cases, doctors usually recommend NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen (Motrin), Aspirin, sulindac (Clinoril) or naproxen (Naprosyn). Which drug will be the best depend on the patient and doctors may try several medications in order to define the one which best suits specific person. These medications may provoke unwanted effects, like: stomach discomfort and pain, ulcers or even bleeding in some cases. Because of that, they are often recommended to be taken with some food or combined with drugs such as misoprostol (Cytotec), to protect stomach and prevent ulcers.
Treatments for More Serious Cases Of Lupus
Corticosteroids, immunosuppressive drugs, some anti-malarial medications, mycophenolate mofetil, certain antibodies and procedures like plasmapheresis, dialysis, surgeries or kidney transplant are also found to be helpful in more serious cases of lupus.
Corticosteroid drugs are more potent than NSAIDs and they are used in the treatment of SLE. High doses of these drugs taken over long period of time could cause: weight gain, infections, diabetes, cataract, thinning of the bones and skin, as well as necrosis or the tissue in large joints. Immunosuppressive drugs (cytotoxic drugs) are also used for severe SLE cases, with some damage to internal organs. Doctors could prescribe: methotrexate, azathioprine, chlorambucil, cyclophosphamide or Cyclosporine.
Treatments for End Stage of Lupus
Anti-malarial medications like: hydroxyxhloroquine (Plaquenil), chloroquine (aralen) and quinacrine may also be your doctor’s choice, especially if you have SLE which affects the skin and joints and causes fatigue. Mycophenolate mofetil (Cellcept) is found efficient for lupus linked to some kidney disease, while antibodies like rituximab (Rituxan) and belimumab (Benlysta) may be useful to suppress B lymphocytes.
Plasmapheresis is actually process where the blood is removed and treated and then returned to the organism, in order to remove abnormal antibodies. Some patients may need surgical removal of the spleen. End stages of SLE associated with kidney damage require dialysis and/or kidney transplant.