Lupus symptoms vary from one person to another. In many cases, the best treatment approach is with a health care team that will tailor treatment to your specific condition.
Choosing the right doctor
A rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in diseases of the joints and muscles, generally treats people with lupus. If lupus has caused damage to a particular organ, other specialists should be consulted.
For instance, a dermatologist for cutaneous lupus (skin disease), a cardiologist for heart disease, a nephrologist for kidney disease, a neurologist for brain and nervous system disease, or a gastroenterologist for gastrointestinal tract disease. A woman with lupus who is considering a pregnancy needs an obstetrician who specializes in high-risk pregnancies.
Today, physicians treat lupus using a wide variety of medicines, ranging in strength from mild to extremely strong. Prescribed medications will usually change during a person’s lifetime with lupus. However, it can take months—sometimes years—before your health care team finds just the right combination of medicines to keep your lupus symptoms under control.
There are many categories of drugs physicians use to treat lupus. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or “FDA” has approved only a few specifically for lupus, which include:
- Corticosteroids, including prednisone, prednisolone, methylprednisolone, and hydrocortisone
- Antimalarials, such as hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil®) and chloroquine
- The monoclonal antibody belimumab (Benlysta®)
- Acthar (repository corticotropin injection), which contains a naturally ocurring hormone called ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone)