For the vast majority of people with lupus, effective treatment can minimize symptoms, reduce inflammation, and maintain normal bodily functions.
Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
These medications are prescribed for a variety of rheumatic diseases, including lupus. Examples of such compounds include acetylsalicylic acid (e.g., aspirin), ibuprofen (Motrin), naproxen (Naprosyn), indomethacin (Indocin), nabumetone (Relafen), tolmetin (Tolectin), and a large number of others. These drugs are usually recommended for muscle and joint pain, and arthritis. Aspirin and NSAIDs may cause stomach upsets for some people. This effect can be minimized by taking them with meals, milk, antacids, or prostaglandins such as misoprostil (Cytotec). Newer NSAIDs contain a prostaglandin in the same capsule (Arthrotec). The other NSAIDs work in the same way as aspirin, but may be more potent, and patients often require fewer pills per day to have the same effect as aspirin. Many NSAIDs are now available in "over the counter" forms. Patients should be cautious about taking too much aspirin or NSAID since too many of these can reduce the blood flow to the kidney and cause problems
Corticosteroids (steroids) are hormones that have anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties. They are normally produced in small quantities by the adrenal gland. This hormone controls a variety of metabolic functions in the body. Synthetically produced corticosteroids are used to reduce inflammation and suppress activity of the immune system. The most commonly prescribed drug of this type is Prednisone.
Chloroquine (Aralen) or hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), commonly used in the treatment of malaria, may also be very useful in some individuals with lupus. They are most often prescribed for skin and joint symptoms of lupus. It may take months before these drugs demonstrate a beneficial effect. Side effects are rare, and consist of occasional diarrhea or rashes. Some antimalarial drugs, such as quinine and chloroquine, can affect the eyes. Therefore, it is important to see an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) regularly. The manufacturer suggests an eye exam before starting the drug and one exam every six months thereafter. However, your physician might suggest a yearly exam is sufficient
Approved by the Lupus Foundation of America's
Patient Education Committee.