living with lupus
Living with lupus takes some adjustments. There’s a lot to learn about having lupus and living with the disease. Treatments for systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) have improved dramatically in recent decades, giving doctors more choices in how to manage the disease. Because some treatments may cause harmful side effects, you should immediately report any new symptoms to your doctor. You should also talk to your doctor before stopping or changing treatments or trying alternative medicines.
Treatments for lupus include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to treat joint or chest pain or fever. Ibuprofen and naproxen sodium are available over the counter, whereas other NSAIDS are available by prescription only.
Antimalarials prevent and treat malaria, but doctors have found that they also are useful for treating fatigue, joint pain, skin rashes, and inflammation of the lungs caused by lupus. These drugs may also prevent flares from recurring.
Corticosteroids, strong inflammation-fighting drugs, may be taken by mouth, in creams applied to the skin, by injection, or by intravenous (IV) infusion (dripping the drug into the vein through a small tube). Because they are potent drugs, your doctor will seek the lowest dose required to achieve the desired benefit.
Immunosuppressives restrain an overactive immune system and may be prescribed if your kidneys or central nervous systems are affected by lupus. These drugs may be given by mouth or by IV infusion. The risk for side effects increases with the length of treatment.
B-lymphocyte stimulator (BlyS)-specific inhibitors reduce the number of abnormal B cells thought to be a problem in lupus.
In many cases you may need to take medications to treat problems related to lupus, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or infection.
Coping with Lupus
Dealing with a long-lasting disease like systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) can be hard on the emotions. You might think that your friends, family, and coworkers do not understand how you feel. Sadness and anger are common reactions.
Who Treats Lupus
Most people will see a rheumatologist for their systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) treatment. A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in rheumatic diseases (arthritis and other inflammatory disorders, often involving the immune system). Clinical immunologists (doctors specializing in immune system disorders) may also treat people with lupus. As treatment progresses, other professionals often help, including:
- Primary care doctors, such as a family physician or internal medicine specialist, who coordinates care between the different health providers and treats other problems as they arise.
- Mental health professionals, who help people cope with difficulties in the home and workplace that may result from their medical conditions.
- Nephrologists, who treat kidney disease.
- Cardiologists, who specialize in the heart and blood vessels.
- Hematologists, who specialize in blood disorders.
- Endocrinologists, who treat problems related to the glands and hormones.
- Dermatologists, who treat skin problems.Living With It
- Dealing with a long-lasting disease like systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) can be hard on the emotions. You might think that your friends, family, and coworkers do not understand how you feel. Sadness and anger are common reactions.
Alternative Lupus Treatments
Alternative and complementary therapies may improve symptoms, although research has not shown whether they help treat the disease. Examples include: