Lupus - Treatment

Treatment of lupus depends on how serious a patient's case is. Mild cases may involve rashes and moderate pain. These cases can be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen (pronounced i-byoo-PRO-fuhn, trade names Motrin, Advil). More serious rashes and joint problems may be treated with drugs also used to treat malaria (see malaria entry).

More serious symptoms may have to be treated with steroids. Steroids can reduce inflammation and swelling. They have some serious side effects, however, so they must be used with caution.

The most seriously ill patients may be treated with immunosuppressant drugs. Immunosuppressant drugs cause the immune system to shut down partially or completely. These drugs also have very serious side effects. With a weakened immune system, a patient is at risk for many other kinds of infections.

Other lupus treatments are designed for specific systems affected by the disease. For example, substances that thin the blood can be used if blood clots have formed. A person whose kidneys have begun to fail may require kidney dialysis or even a kidney transplantation. Kidney dialysis is a process in which a machine artificially cleanses a person's blood.

Alternative Treatment

A number of alternative treatments have been suggested to help reduce the symptoms of lupus. These include acupuncture and massage for relieving the pain of sore joints and muscles. Patients can be taught to relax with techniques such as meditation and yoga. Hydrotherapy (water therapy) may also promote relaxation.

Proper nutrition may be an important factor in treating the symptoms of lupus. Some cases of the disease may be triggered by certain types of foods. Wheat, dairy products, and soy are the most common causes of the disease. Avoiding these foods may reduce the symptoms of lupus.

Some practitioners recommend nutritional supplements, such as vitamins B, C, and E, and minerals, such as magnesium, selenium, and zinc. They think these supplements may improve the general health of patients with lupus. Vitamin A can also be used to treat facial rashes.

Herbalists believe that certain herbs help relieve specific symptoms of lupus. They think that herbs can also help people develop a healthier outlook on life.

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