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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Treatment & Monitoring
      Category : Health Centers > Immune System

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Alternate Names : Lupus

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the disease?

Although there is no cure for SLE, certain things can help prevent flare-ups. Persons with SLE should avoid intense sun exposure. Liberal use of sunscreens, long-sleeved shirts, and hats are helpful.

Since infections are common, persons with SLE should seek prompt evaluation of fevers. A yearly flu vaccine is recommended. If the spleen is removed, the person should receive the pneumococcal vaccine. Individuals should also receive antibiotics before any dental procedures.

A number of medications are used to treat SLE, including the following:

  • antimalarial medications, such as quinacrine and hydroxychloroquine. These are used to treat skin problems and arthritis.
  • corticosteroids, such as prednisone and methylprednisolone. These reduce the immune system response.
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen. These medications reduce fever and treat pain.
  • powerful cytotoxic medications, which kill cells. These are used to treat nephritis, a serious kidney problem.
  • Individuals with end-stage kidney disease may benefit from kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant.

    What are the side effects of the treatments?

    The medications used to treat lupus have significant side effects. Unfortunately, some of these side effects can mimic the symptoms of the disease itself.

    NSAIDs can cause stomach irritation, allergic reaction, and decreased kidney function.

    Antimalarial medications can cause rash, muscle weakness, and nerve problems.

    Corticosteroids have a host of possible side effects. These include weight gain, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and increased risk of infection.

    The cytotoxic medications can cause problems with the bladder and with blood cell production.

    What happens after treatment for the disease?

    Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic disease that fluctuates over time. The best way to manage it is by active collaboration between the individual and his or her healthcare providers.

    How is the disease monitored?

    Periodic examinations allow the healthcare provider to monitor the activity of the disease and determine possible complications. A variety of blood tests help in the monitoring of the disease. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.

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    Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Prevention & Expectations


    Author: Minot Cleveland, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 08/06/01

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