What to think about
Taking corticosteroids by mouth and being physically inactive put people with lupus at great risk of bone thinning (osteoporosis). Getting an adequate supply of calcium and vitamin D may slow the bone thinning process. Your doctor may also prescribe bisphosphonates, a type of medicine that is also used for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. To learn more, see the topic Osteoporosis.
Lupus treatment is complicated by several things. The course and pattern of lupus symptoms vary widely. Flares and remissions can occur at any time, making it hard to tell how you are responding to treatment or which treatments are most helpful. Some treatment side effects can be as troubling as the symptoms of lupus.
It may not be possible to completely eliminate all of your symptoms for long periods of time, especially without the side effects from medicines. Work closely with your doctor to reach a balance between reasonably controlling your symptoms, preventing damage to your organs, and minimizing side effects of long-term drug treatment. For example, you may take a dose of medicine that will control lupus enough to prevent organ damage, but you may still have symptoms such as mild skin rash, muscle aches, and joint pain.
Using higher doses of medicines for a long time increases the risk of serious side effects. Your doctor will prescribe a dose that controls only the most serious, life-threatening symptoms and balances the risks of the medicines with the benefits of controlling your symptoms.