Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is mostly treated with medications. You may take one or more depending on your symptoms. The types of medications usually used to treat SLE include:
- Corticosteroids like prednisone (Rayos)
Corticosteroids are very effective at treating pain and inflammation caused by SLE. They are usually used for short periods to avoid side effects. Taking corticosteroids for a few weeks or months can help treat severe symptoms. The medication dose is then slowly lowered and stopped.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) like hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
DMARDs are used for long-term treatment of SLE. These medications help relieve symptoms and may help prevent SLE from getting worse. It may take a few months after starting for DMARDs to fully work. In the meantime, corticosteroids can help relieve symptoms.
- Biologics like belimumab (Benlysta)
Biologics are also used for long-term treatment of SLE. They are used when other medications are not effective. Biologics are newer medications. They are safe to take, but doctors are still stuying how well they treat SLE..
- Calcineurin inhibitors like cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, SandIMMUNE) and tacrolimus (Astagraf XL, Envarsus XR, Prograf)
Calcineurin inhibitors are used when lupus affects the kidneys and other medications have not helped.
The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and prevent your SLE from getting worse. You may need to try more than one medication to find one that helps your symptoms. It is important to see your doctor regularly to check if your treatment is working. Tell your doctor about your symptoms and any concerns about your medications. Your doctor may change the medications you take or adjust their doses depending on how you are doing. This way, you and your doctor can find a treatment plan that works for you.
If SLE is making you cry, give steroids, DMARDs, or biologics a try!