How is Lupus Treated?
There is no cure for lupus, but medicines and lifestyle changes can help control it.
People with lupus often need to see different doctors. Most people will see a rheumatologist for their 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. Which other specialists you see depends on how lupus affects your body. For example, if lupus damages your heart or blood vessels, you would see a cardiologist. Women who want to start a family should work closely with their health care team. Your obstetrician and your lupus doctor should work together to find the best treatment plan for you.
Because lupus causes the immune system to attack the body's own cells, inflammation occurs. Your doctor will develop a treatment plan to fit your needs and will prescribe medications depending on the severity of symptoms and the organs that are involved.
Lupus treatments may include medications to:
- Reduce swelling and pain
- Prevent or reduce flares
- Help the immune system
- Reduce or prevent damage to joints
- Balance the hormones.
The goal of treatment is to control inflammation and prevent damage to vital organs. Sometimes, however, the medications can make you more susceptible to infections, since the immune system is suppressed. You should report new symptoms to your doctor right away, so that treatment can be changed if needed.
In addition to medications for lupus itself, sometimes other medications are needed for problems related to lupus such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or infection.
You also may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial for lupus. Talk to your doctor to find out if there is a clinical trial that would be appropriate for you.