Systemic lupus erythematosus more often abbreviated to SLE or simply Lupus is a disease where the immune system attacks the body’s cells, causing inflammation and damage. Though the disease has no known cure, the good news is that lupus treatment is very effective at managing the disease and keeping its symptoms and flare-ups under control.
Though 50 years ago, a person diagnosed with lupus could only hope to live for about 5 years, modern lupus treatment protocols have made it possible for a majority of lupus patients to live a normal lifespan with relatively few symptoms. The aim of the treatment is to prevent flare-ups and to reduce the severity of flare-ups when they do occur.
Medical treatments for lupus
NSAIDS and Anti malarial drugs
Since pain and inflammation are the characteristics of the disease, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or analgesics are prescribed as part of the treatment to manage these symptoms. These drugs will also reduce swelling and fever which are other characteristics of the disease. Anti malarial drugs also help with skin diseases are another symptom of the disease.
These drugs are usually part of the lupus treatment because they effectively control inflammation. These drugs help to prevent organ damage. However prolonged use or high dosages are known to cause significant side effects.
The overactive immune system attacks the body’s tissues so the treatment tries to suppress the body’s immune system. So cytotoxic drugs may be prescribed which can however lower immunity, cause nausea and other side effects.
Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs
These are meant to reduce flare-ups and lower reliance on steroids.
Home remedies and lifestyle alterations as lupus treatment
When a person’s disease is mild or when it is in remission, drugs can be discontinued and home remedies may be adequate for keeping the disease in control.
Rest, but also exercise
People with lupus, are frequently and greatly fatigued and therefore need more sleep and rest than others. It is important to prioritize sleep and get about 12 hours of restful sleep each day. Getting help with tiring chores is also recommended.
Exercise should be part of the treatment because it helps to boost energy levels and general wellbeing. Swimming and walking are recommended.
Since the main aim of lupus treatment is to prevent flares, it is important to avoid sun exposure or to use sun protection such as high SPF sunscreen and protective clothing. Stress is also seen to trigger flare-ups and so should be kept in control. Suddenly stopping medications can also cause flare-ups and so discontinuing any medication should only be done under medical supervision.
Taking care of overall health
To reduce frequency and severity of flares, other diseases should be kept in control. Lupus patients should therefore include appropriate vaccinations, keeping cholesterol or hypertension in control, and preventing other infections. Regular eye exams and good dental care should also be a part of lupus treatment. It is also important to become properly informed and educated about the disease and its mechanism.