Lupus In Color
Significant Lupus Treatments
Lupus can’t be cured, but treatment may help. While there’s no cure for lupus, current treatments focus on improving quality of life through controlling symptoms and minimizing flare-ups. This begins with lifestyle modifications, including sun protection and diet. Further disease management includes medications, such as anti-inflammatories and steroids.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).Over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as naproxen sodium (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), may be used to treat pain, swelling and fever associated with lupus. Stronger NSAIDs are available by prescription. Side effects of NSAIDs include stomach bleeding, kidney problems and an increased risk of heart problems.
Antimalarial drugs. Medications commonly used to treat malaria, such as hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), also can help control lupus. Side effects can include stomach upset and, very rarely, damage to the retina of the eye.Corticosteroids. Prednisone and other types of corticosteroids can counter the inflammation of lupus but often produce long-term side effects — including weight gain, easy bruising, thinning bones (osteoporosis), high blood pressure, diabetes and increased risk of infection. The risk of side effects increases with higher doses and longer term therapy.
Immunosuppressants. Drugs that suppress the immune system may be helpful in serious cases of lupus. Examples include azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan), mycophenolate (CellCept), leflunomide (Arava) and methotrexate (Trexall). Potential side effects may include an increased risk of infection, liver damage, decreased fertility and an increased risk of cancer. A newer medication, belimumab (Benlysta), also reduces lupus symptoms in some people. Side effects include nausea, diarrhea and fever.
Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®)Originally developed as a chemotherapy drug (to treat cancer) and used as an immunosuppressant (to treat lupus).Taken in pill form previously. Today, Cytoxan is taken through the vein (intravenously, or IV).Shown to improve kidney and lung disease.Can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle.Can cause bladder problems, hair loss and sterility.
Methotrexate (Rheumatrex™)Originally developed as a chemotherapy drug (to treat cancer) and used as an immunosuppressant (to treat lupus).Known as the “gold standard” — the best drug — for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.Shown to be very effective in treating skin lesions, arthritis and pleuritis in people with lupus.Can cause sun-sensitivity, liver damage, including cirrhosis and lung infections.Nausea, mouth sores and headaches are the most common side effects.
Information partially compiled from: http://www.lupus.org/answers/entry/medications-to-treat-lupus#cytoxan