Lupus Treatment Options
While there is no known cure for lupus or lupus nephritis, there are treatments available to help control disease activity and improve symptoms.
No single treatment strategy works for everyone. It’s important to understand what each treatment does and how the types of treatment differ. Being informed can help you partner with your doctor to create the right treatment plan for you.
Learning about the available treatments helped me to feel more confident about managing my lupus.
Goals of lupus treatments
Reducing symptoms and signs
Preventing lupus flares
Minimizing side effects of medications
Preventing damage to skin, joints, and internal organs, like your kidneys and heart
Common types of lupus medications
Antimalarial medications are commonly recommended for lupus patients because they work to reduce the immune system’s attack on the body.
Research shows that antimalarials are effective for autoimmune disorders such as lupus because they reduce your body’s production of autoantibodies autoantibody: an antibody that destroys the body’s own healthy cells, which can cause inflammation and organ damage..
Steroids can provide rapid symptom relief when you’re having a flare—when some of your symptoms get worse or new symptoms appear. Steroids work to get flares under control by reducing your immune system’s response.
During a flare, steroids are often used as a front-line treatment because they work quickly to decrease inflammation.
Over time, persistent use of steroids may cause organ damage. It’s important to work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that reduces symptoms/disease activity, minimizes steroid use, and controls flares.
A Word About Steroid Tapering tapering: slowly reducing the dosage of a medication.
Talk to your doctor about safely reducing your use of steroids. Tapering your dosage of these medications should always be done with the guidance of your doctor.
Since lupus causes the immune system to attack the body, drugs which suppress or change the immune system may be added to other medicines to help reach treatment goals such as reducing lupus disease activity and flares.
Immunosuppressants are often added when lupus continues to affect the immune system, muscles, joints, skin, kidneys (lupus nephritis), and other vital organs.
Your doctor may recommend different immunosuppressive treatments based on:
- How lupus/lupus nephritis is affecting your body
- Your current treatment plan
- Your individual treatment needs
Biologics are treatments that are created in a laboratory using substances like proteins and antibodies from living organisms. Some medicines, in contrast, are made/synthesized from chemical compounds.
Biologic therapies for lupus are designed to target specific proteins in order to help reduce/inhibit your immune system’s attack on your body.
A biologic may be prescribed as a more targeted add-on treatment to your existing medications.
GSK does not endorse the use of unapproved therapies for treatment of lupus. Your doctor will determine what treatment option is right for you.
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