Lupus Erythematosus Treatment: Mycophenolate Mofetil

Lupus erythematosus is a chronic disease affecting the immune system, which can cause inflammation throughout the body. Lupus is not a contagious disease, but it does impact more than 1.5 million Americans. It is estimated that worldwide, there are over 5 million people who have lupus erythematosus. Although anyone can contract this disease, studies show that nine out of 10 people who have lupus are women who are normally 15 to 44 years of age. In addition, it is two to three times more likely in women of color.

Symptoms of Lupus

Because the symptoms of lupus often resemble that of other illnesses, it is often difficult to diagnose this disease. Symptoms of lupus may include joint or muscle pain (more than 90 percent experience this symptom), skin problems, swollen glands, extreme fatigue, hair loss, chest pain with deep breathing, fevers, gastrointestinal problems, nervous disorders and memory problems, oral and dental issues, anemia and low white cell count, low mineral density with the bones and eye problems.

Although there is no cure yet for lupus erythematosus, much knowledge has been learned and advances are continuously being made. The disease will often occur in flare-ups (come and go) and is treatable.

Mycophenolate Mofetil and Lupus Erythematosus

Mycophenolate Mofetil (MMF) is an immunosuppressive medication normally used with organ transplants, but it is now also used for autoimmune diseases such as lupus. As there are many side effects with this type of drug, normally only patients who cannot tolerate conventional medication treatment will be on mycophenolate mofetil treatment. Medical studies indicate that patients treated with mycophenolate mofetil showed reduced symptoms of the lupus disease and flare-ups and required less prednisone.

Side Effects and Risks of Mycophenolate Mofetil

With mycophenolate mofetil medication treatment, the body is less able to fight against infection and illness, increasing the risk for a patient to develop lymph node tumors (lymphoma) or other types of illnesses. For this reason and other possible side effects, if a patient is given this type of medication, she should be monitored closely by the physician.

Side effects and risks may include diarrhea, dizziness, constipation, headaches, diminished appetite, insomnia, nausea and/or vomiting, tremors and gas. Medical attention should be sought after immediately if there are indications of an allergy such as a rash and swelling, severe dizziness or difficulty with breathing. Signs of infection should be also be reported such as fever, flu-like symptoms and sores.

A doctor and pharmacist should be made aware of any and all allergies especially if there are any allergies to mycophenolate itself. The doctor should also be informed of any previous or present diseases and complete medical history, as the treatment and outcome could change for the lupus erythematosus condition.

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