If you have lupus, you’re probably taken aback by the fact that it is incurable, but the good news is there is no shortage of treatment options, and with the right treatment you can live a healthy life. Today, doctors have more choices to help patients manage lupus effectively because the range and effectiveness of treatments have increased in recent decades.
What are your treatment options?
Because there is no cure for lupus; treatment focuses on managing symptoms, stopping flare-ups, lowering disease activity, preventing organ damage and improving quality of life.
Looking for the right treatment, but don’t know where to start? The Lupus Research Alliance breaks down what each treatment is:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which decrease inflammation, are often used to treat people with joint or chest pain, fever and swelling. Some NSAIDs, like ibuprofen and naproxen, are available over the counter, while others require a doctor’s prescription. They
can be used alone or in combination with other types of drugs, but before you do this, it is wise to consult with your doctor to ensure it is safe.
While antimalarial drugs prevent and treat malaria, they’re also useful for lupus. A common antimalarial for lupus, hydroxychloroquine, may be used alone or in combination with other drugs to treat fatigue, joint pain, skin rashes and lung inflammation. Clinical studies have found
that regular use of antimalarials may prevent flares from recurring.
Corticosteroids are a family of drugs related to cortisol, a natural anti-inflammatory hormone. Corticosteroids are great at apidly suppressing inflammation. However, they can be extremely potent drugs with side effects, so doctors will seek the lowest dose to achieve the desired benefit or use them in combination with less potent drugs.
Immunosuppressive therapy restrains the overactive immune system by blocking the production of immune cells. However, the risk for side effects increases with the length of treatment.
B-lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS-specific inhibitors)
B-lymphocyte stimulator (BlyS) protein inhibitor, a type of biologic medication, can help lower the number of abnormal B cells that create antibodies. Benlysta® (belimumab), one of two medications now approved specifically for lupus treatment, is a BLyS-specific inhibitor. Belimumab was approved in 2011 as a treatment for general systemic lupus erythematosus and in 2020 as a treatment for lupus nephritis.
Lupkynis™ (voclosporin) is a calcineurin inhibitor used as an