Treatments for lupus, or SLE treatments, depend on the severity of disease, the body systems affected, and vary from person to person. Lupus or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune condition that typically affects joints, skin, and organ systems of the body such as the heart and kidneys. The exact cause of lupus remains unknown, although doctors believe both heredity and the environment play a role in triggering the onset of this disease.

As with any autoimmune disorder, the immune system attacks your body’s own cells and tissues, resulting in a painful inflammatory response. Diagnosis and treatments for lupus begin with a visit to an endocrinologist, a specialist who reviews your symptoms, conducts a variety of blood tests, and manages your care with other care providers, including alternative treatments for lupus. While the outlook for people with lupus was once grim, today proper diagnosis and treatment of lupus allows patients to lead healthy, active lives.

Diagnosis of lupus can prove difficult, as there is no single test to confirm lupus, and it often resembles other rheumatic diseases. The onset of lupus may be gradual or sudden, and symptoms depend on the area of the body affected. Of the four types of lupus, the most common is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). While lupus can occur at any age, it typically occurs between the ages of 18 and 45, and affects women ten times more often than men. Initial symptoms commonly include a butterfly like (malar) rash over the nose and cheeks of the face, fever, exhaustion, weakness, and may include severe headaches, or periods of memory loss / mental disturbance. As the disease progresses, SLE typically causes inflammation and pain in the joints, skin, mucous membranes, heart, and lungs.

Your endocrinologist will conduct a thorough physical exam, and ask a number of questions to detect which body systems and organs are affected. Because lupus often   decreases the number of blood cells, your doctor may also order a number of lab tests that look for the presence of antibodies and measure red blood cell, white blood cell, and platelet counts. Additional tests that help determine the extent of your disease may include a urinalysis to measure kidney function, a kidney biopsy to measure the extent of tissue damage, and / or imaging studies of the heart, lungs, or other organs to check for inflammation in these areas.

Traditional treatments for lupus include a number of medications. Non-steroidal anti inflammatory (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen, help treat mild inflammatory response, while corticosteroids such as prednisone are often used to treat moderate to severe inflammation experienced during disease flare ups. Flare-ups may be avoided, or at least minimized, with immunosuppressant drugs such as rheumatrex or antimalarial drugs like Plaquenil, both of which help to prevent organ damage.

Alternative treatments for lupus focus on identifying and removing triggers that cause disease flare-ups. Recent research suggests that food allergies or sensitivities, environmental factors, and stress can lead to increased symptom severity. Foods with high acid content, such as fried and fatty foods, gluten, and overly processed foods can result in increased skin and joint involvement. Natural supplements containing omega fatty acids, such as fish oil and flax seed, have proven useful in treating inflammation and joint pain. Other natural treatments for lupus include yoga and biofeedback to prevent disease flare-ups, while acupuncture helps treat and minimize disease severity.

With appropriate disease management, including both traditional and alternative therapies, treatments for lupus help patients lead full, active, healthy lives.


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