Lupus: Support and Survival

How to Make Your Medicines Work
Currently, there is no cure for lupus. But treatments can ease symptoms and reduce complications. Treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) depends on which organs are affected and how severely. Because lupus may assume many forms, finding the most effective treatment may take time.

If taken properly, sometimes medications can work wonders. A variety of medications, including the following, may be involved in the treatment of lupus:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) may reduce joint and other tissue inflammation.

Antimalarial drugs. There is no known relationship between lupus and malaria, and no one knows why antimalarial drugs help improve lupus. These medications may be useful for treating skin and joint problems and inflammation of the surface of organs like your heart and lungs. These drugs also may prevent flares of the disease. Plaquenil is one anti-malarial drug used to combat Lupus. (more information on Plaquenil)

Corticosteroids. These drugs counter the inflammation of lupus. The dosage depends on which organs are involved and how severely. Side effects of steroid use include weight gain, puffiness in your face, easy bruising, thinning of bones (osteoporosis), high blood pressure, diabetes and increased risk of infection. (more information on Prednisone)

Immunosuppressive medications. These drugs, such as azathioprine (Imuran) and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), reduce your normal immune response. Your doctor may prescribe them if lupus is widely affecting your organs, especially your kidneys. Other similar medications are methotrexate (Rheumatrex), chlorambucil (Leukeran) and cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune, SangCya).

Immunosuppressive medications may cause anemia and a low white blood cell count. They may also increase risk of infection and cancer. Your doctor may prescribe them if corticosteroids aren't effective, or with a lower dosage of corticosteroids (to reduce side effects).

Sometimes, even with the use of corticosteroids and immunosuppressive drugs, your kidneys may fail. You may need kidney dialysis or, if kidney failure is permanent, a kidney transplant.

Drug Information

    • NSAIDs - Helpful, but with serious side effects
    • Steroid injections - Targeted pain relief
    • Steroids - A look at a catch all term
Tips on giving yourself the best chance for the medicines to help:
  • Become an expert on your medications. Save the material the pharmacist gives you when your fill your prescription.
  • Know the generic and the brand names of each.
  • Know the dosage and the schedule. Do mealtimes matter?
  • What good is the medication supposed to do?
  • How are you supposed to feel if it works... or doesn't work?
  • Notice any allergic reactions immediately.
  • How long is is supposed to take? Plaquenil can take 6 weeks or more to have an effect, while prednisone begins to work almost immediately.
  • What are the potential side effects?
  • When is it necessary to call the doctor about them?
  • Will taking this medication require monitoring of my liver or other organs?
  • When will the follow-up appointment need to be scheduled?
  • What happens if you forget a dose?
  • What are the potential food-drug or drug-drug interactions?
  • Can I take this medication with milk? What about alcohol?
  • Do foods or beverages reduce it's effectiveness?
  • Will taking this drug make me more sensitive to the sun? (photosensitive).
  • How will this drug be affected by over the counter medications, herbs, and any nutritional supplements I am taking?
  • These are questions you may need to consult your doctor or pharmacist on, and don't be shy about it.
  • Take all medications as directed, and keep a record.
  • Be honest - if cost or a troubling symptom are keeping you from taking the medication as prescribed, let your physician know.

Drug pages:


Contact the Lupus Foundation of America or the local Chapter that serves your area for more information about lupus, or the programs and services the LFA offers including support group information and physician referral.

Lupus Foundation of America., Inc.
1300 Piccard Drive, Suite 200
Rockville, MD 20850-4303
301-670-9292  800-558-0121

Information gathered from :

Searching for  ways to deal with the depression, the frustrations, the questions about lupus, I joined a support group online.  LUPIES has been a wonderful gift.  I have learned more from the information I found on the support web site from other sufferers of Lupus than I did from my doctor.
Thank you fellow Lupies!    With a very special thank you to Deanna!
May your days be pain free!

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