Lupus erythematosus is a chronic disease that can greatly affect the immune system and cause inflammation throughout the entire body. Medications to treat this disease can have unpleasant side effects. Many individuals are now opting for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Although lupus is not contagious, it does affect more than 1.5 million Americans. Medical studies show that there are over 5 million people who have lupus erythematosus. Anyone can contract this disease, but medical reports indicate that nine out of 10 people who have lupus are women, usually ranging in the age group of 15 to 44. In addition, it is two to three times more likely to develop in women of color.
Symptoms of Lupus
The symptoms of lupus will often resemble similar symptoms of other illnesses. This is the reason why this disease is frequently difficult to diagnose. Symptoms of lupus may include joint or muscle pain (more than 90 percent experience this symptom), chest pain with deep breathing, skin problems such as rashes, hair loss, swollen glands, extreme fatigue, anemia and low white cell count, fevers, gastrointestinal problems, nervous disorders and memory problems, oral and dental issues, low mineral and bone density, and vision probems.
There is no cure yet for lupus erythematosus, but more is being learned about the disease and advances are continuously being made. Lupus will often come and go with flare-ups, but is a treatable disease.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
NSAIDS are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. They include medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), oxaprozin (Daypro) and nabumetone (Relafen). These drugs can often help with symptoms of lupus erythematosus such as joint and muscular pains and discomfort, inflammation and swelling, general malaise, as well as with arthritis and fever. Aspirin has been approved by the FDA in treatment for Lupus.
It is recommended for individuals who take NSAIDS to take the medication as directed, and to seek medical care for liver and blood chemistry tests at least every three months. NSAIDS increase liver enzymes, which may cause liver disorders.
Antimalarial Agents and Lupus
Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), chloroquine (Aralen) and quinacrine (Atabrine) are all antimalarial agents frequently used to treat Lupus. As hydroxychloroquine has been established to have lower side effects, it is in fact also approved by the FDA for treatment, along with aspirin and prednisone (corticosteroid).
Medical studies show that antimalarials are effective in treating symptoms of lupus such as joint and muscle pain and swelling (anti-inflammatory properties), helping with lupus arthritis. They also reduce inflammation of the lining of the heart (pericarditis), diminish inflammation of the lining of the lungs (pleuritis), treat fevers, lower cholesterol levels and hinder clotting. Antimalarial agents also treat fatigue, mouth ulcers and rashes. In addition, these agents block the light from the sun and the UV rays, thereby protecting the skin and reducing the risk of skin lesions.
Medical studies indicate a 60 to 90 percent reduction of symptoms with lupus erythematosus, with some going into complete remission with the use of antimalarial agents as treatment.