Healthy Living

Treatment Options for Lupus

Treatment Options for Lupus

Lupus does not have a complete cure; however, the symptoms can be managed. With thorough treatment, life expectancy of the patient can be increased to the fullest. Early diagnosis and treatment of lupus is important for preventing permanent damage to one's organs.

Your doctor may begin your treatment by:

-          Listing your symptoms

-          Assessing the condition of your organs

-          Assessing the impact lupus has on your day-to-day activities

Four Major Treatment Options for Lupus

  1. Medications
  2. De-stressing activities
  3. Healthy diet
  4. Surgery


The symptoms of lupus appear and disappear periodically. 

The most common medicines prescribed by your doctor for controlling lupus are:

  • Anti-malarial medicines
  • Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Immunosuppressants

Anti-malarial medicines:

Medicines, such as Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), that are commonly used to treat malaria also treat lupus.

Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medicines (NSAIDs)

Over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as Ibuprofen (Advil) and Naproxen sodium (Aleve), are used to treat lupus. For mild symptoms, NSAIDs are enough.

Stronger NSAIDs are available only by prescription in certain countries.


-          Corticosteroids are used to treat inflammation caused by lupus.

-          Prednisone, Cortisone, and Hydrocortisone are Corticosteroids that are used to treat Lupus.

-          Doctors usually recommend smallest doses of corticosteroids, for smaller periods of time.  


-          Immunosuppressants prevent the body's immune system from attacking itself.

-          Following Immunosuppressants are used for treating Lupus: Methotrexate (Trexall), Azathioprine (Azasan), Mycophenolate (CellCept), Leflunomide (Arava). 

-          Belimumab (Benlysta) is a new drug that reduces lupus symptoms in some, it was approved in 2011. It prevents the self attack that occurs in Lupus.

In addition to the medicines prescribed above, there may be a need for treating other health issues that come along such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It’s important to take medicines as per doctor’s advice because they do have side effects.

Most medications, including medicines as simple as aspirin, have unwanted side effects. That is why treatment plans may also involve a thorough discussion of pros and cons.

Likely Side Effects from Medications Used to Treat Lupus

Anti-malarial medicines:

  • Upset stomach
  • Damage to retinas

Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medicines:

  • Kidney problems
  • Bleeding in the stomach
  • Elevated risk for heart problems

Corticosteroids (long-term effects):

  • Weight gain
  • Weak bones
  • Osteoporosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Easy bruising

Chances of these side effects are greater when these medicines are used for long-term therapy. 


  • Increased risk of infection
  • Increase risk of cancer
  • Increase risk of liver damage
  • Reduced fertility
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

De-stressing activities

  • De-stressing activities such as relaxation therapies have been found to be of great help in improving lupus and enhancing one's quality of life.
  • Breathing exercises, such as pranayama, help; however, it’s advisable to get trained in this regard before you begin, as certain breathing exercises when not done properly may do more harm than good.

Healthy diet

Lifestyle changes, such as incorporating a healthy diet, are encouraged. Good nutrition is not only important for a healthy life, but it also helps people who have lupus tremendously.


Surgery is considered an option only when lupus has done severe damage to the patient's kidneys.