This week, we will look at the signs and symptoms and some of the medications used to help keep lupus in remission.
Common signs and symptoms: (most of which is never seen, but only felt by the sufferer)
No two people will experience the same signs and symptoms thereby making it very difficult to diagnose.
These symptoms may have a sudden onset or progress slowly and they could be temporary or permanent, making it all the more confusing and concerning, for both the patient and Doctor alike.
Joint pain, inflammation and stiffness (arthralgia).
Rheumatoid Arthritis (swollen joints).
Prolonged or extreme fatigue – not like what is felt from a lack of sleep or a night of partying fatigue (like a vacuum that sucks the energy out of you).
Skin rashes due to sun exposure, also hives or sores.
Multiple organ involvement, pleurisy or inflammation in the lungs, myo-pericarditis in the heart, kidney inflammation (lupus nephritis) or failure.
Butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose and malar rash.
Sun or light sensitivity (become vitamin D deficient as the sun is a no-go zone).
Weight loss or gain.
Jaundice or other liver conditions.
Affects the stomach and digestion making worse ulcerative colitis or pancreatitis, which results in nausea, vomiting, persistent and recurring abdominal pain, bladder infections or blood in the urine.
Abnormal blood clotting.
Raynaud’s phenomenon (fingers turning white and / or blue when cold).
Mouth or nose ulcers.
Memory loss or confusion sometimes referred to as brain fog.
Persistent and unusual headaches.
Strokes and seizures.
Stress and anxiety.
Majority of these meds come with serious side effects. So it’s not only dealing with the effects of Lupus, but with the side effects from the various medications as well.
These are all trial and error as what may work for one person, may not work for the other.
It also depends on the signs and symptoms that the individual is presenting with, in order to find the right medication balance.
Anti-malarial drugs – these are drugs used to treat malaria but can help control lupus and joint stiffness. Side effects can include stomach upset, damage to the eyes and hearing. E.g. Hydroxychloroquine.
Anti-inflammatories – E.g. Myprodol.
Corticosteroids – used to counter the inflammation of lupus. These are commonly used and can cause several long term side effects. Weight gain, bruising easily, thinning of the bones (osteoporosis), high blood pressure, diabetes and increases the risk of infection. E.g. Prednisone. Coming off steroids suddenly can be dangerous. Always follow your doctor’s orders carefully when stopping steroids.
Immuno-suppressants – used to suppress the immune system and in serious cases where the lupus is very active. Side effects may include risk of infection, liver damage, decreased fertility, and an increased risk of cancer. E.g. Belimumab(Benylysta), Cellcept (mycophenolate mofetil) and Cyclosporine (organ transplant drugs), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) (chemotherapy drug), Imuran (azathioprine), Methotrexate (Trexall) and DHEA (mild male hormone)
Epileptic meds – used for pain, E.g. Neurontin.
NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-infammatory drugs) – used to reduce inflammation in the joints, muscles and other tissues and sometimes to lower fevers. Side effects can include stomach upset and fluid retention. E.g. Aspirin, Naproxen, Iburpofen.
Sunscreens and topical treatments for skin conditions related to lupus.
Thank you for reading and educating yourself about Lupus. Raise awareness and save a life, save a soul.
Next week we will look at Celebrities Living with Lupus. Much Love and Respect, always. Nas.