Get Treatment For Lupus

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Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Lupus Treatment?

Since 1969, our hospital has been providing quality healthcare to the community of Los Angeles and, if you struggle with lupus, our team of medical professionals will design the most effective treatment plan for you so that you can experience a significant alleviation of your symptoms. Our team is comprised of renowned medical experts who specialize in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as lupus, so you can rest assured that you will benefit from the most favorable outcome if you choose to treat your condition at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital.

Medically known as systemic lupus erythematosus, this serious condition causes the immune system to attack the healthy cells and tissues in your body. Numerous people with lupus experience frequent episodes of severe inflammation in various parts of the body. Furthermore, lupus can affect your joints, tendons, blood vessels, and skin. In severe cases, it will also affect some of your organs, such as the heart, the lungs, the kidneys, and the brain. It is worthy of note that lupus is a chronic disease that has no cure, but can be kept under control with adequate treatment. In the United States, there are 1.5 million people who are currently struggling with lupus.

This autoimmune disease affects every person differently. Some people experience mild symptoms, while others experience severe symptoms. It is important to know that lupus can have periods of remission, which means that the person will no longer experience the bothersome symptoms for several days to several months. However, with the right treatment and the appropriate lifestyle, you can live a relatively normal life if you have lupus. Lastly, it is noteworthy that children can also suffer from lupus, which often takes a heavy toll on their kidneys, being able to lead to kidney failure. In rare cases, lupus can be fatal.

The treatment you will receive for lupus will highly depend on your age, the severity of your symptoms, your general health, as well as your preferences. If you have lupus, you will mostly work with a rheumatologist, a medical professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the joints, muscles, and bones. Additionally, you may work with specialists in kidney disease, blood disorders, immune disorders, and heart problems, if lupus has damaged various organs in your body. The main purpose of the treatment is to manage your symptoms, to prevent the inflammation that is characteristic to lupus, and to help reduce damage to the body. Accordingly, you may be prescribed one or more of the following medications:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: this class of drugs includes ibuprofen and naproxen and is meant to reduce pain and swelling in your joints and muscles, as well as fever
  • antimalarial medication: medical studies found that certain drugs used to treat malaria, such as hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine phosphate, are very effective in keeping lupus under control by alleviating fatigue, rashes, joint pain, and mouth sores, as well as by preventing the formation of blood clots
  • corticosteroids: this medication helps reduce swelling, tenderness, and pain in people with lupus, as well as repair the damage caused by the disease to the kidneys, lungs, heart, and brain, and comes in the form of a pill, a shot, or a cream
  • immunosuppressive agents: in severe cases of lupus, people may be prescribed medication that inhibits the immune system so it ceases to attack healthy cells, tissue, and organs in the body
  • other medicines: in addition to the drugs above, you may be prescribed other medications to treat diseases that are related to lupus, such as high blood pressure and osteoporosis, as well as drugs to prevent blood clots, which occur frequently in people with lupus and can be fatal

In addition to the medication you are given for the treatment of lupus, you will also need to change your lifestyle if you receive this diagnosis so that it will reduce the intensity of your symptoms and prevent serious health complications. The following are a series of changes you can make to have a high quality of life with lupus:

  • get 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night
  • eat a healthy and balanced diet
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • engage in physical activity a few times a week
  • learn ways to manage and reduce your stress
  • avoid sunlight and wear sunscreen every time you go outside
  • treat infections as soon as they occur
  • quit smoking if you are a smoker

When people talk about lupus, they usually refer to the most common type of this autoimmune disease. However, there is more than one type of lupus and each type requires a different treatment approach. The following are all types of lupus:

  • systemic lupus erythematosus: this is the most common form of lupus, accounting for 70% of all cases
  • cutaneous lupus: this type of lupus only affects the skin of the patient
  • drug-induced lupus: this is a type of lupus that occurs after the patient takes certain prescription drugs that cause the occurrence of the disease
  • neonatal lupus: this is a rare type of lupus that affects the infants of women who have lupus

Symptoms of Lupus

Every patient who is struggling with lupus experiences a different range of symptoms, depending on the severity of their disease. Nevertheless, the following are the most common symptoms of lupus:

  • swelling in the legs and ankles
  • fluid around the lungs or the heart
  • inflammation of the lining of the heart
  • seizures
  • kidney failure
  • miscarriage
  • muscle and joint pain
  • fever
  • rashes
  • sun or light sensitivity
  • extreme fatigue
  • anemia
  • mouth sores
  • chest pain
  • hair loss
  • blood clotting
  • memory problems
  • kidney problems
  • eye disease
  • shortness of breath
  • inflammation of the tissue around the lungs

Diagnosis of Lupus

Diagnosing lupus is a challenging process even for the most experienced medical professionals. For this reason, numerous tests and procedures need to be carried out so that we can pinpoint the exact cause of your symptoms. However, the diagnostic process begins with a talk about the symptoms you experience. Your doctor may suspect you have lupus if you experience 4 or more symptoms of this disease with no specific cause. Afterward, they will order a series of blood tests to confirm or deny the presence of lupus. The following are the most effective blood tests for the diagnosis of lupus:

  • antibody blood tests: the main test for lupus is the¬†antinuclear antibodies, which are present in the blood of people who have this disease
  • complete blood count: the purpose of this blood test is to measure the levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets
  • complement test: this blood test is carried out to measure the levels of complement, which, in people with lupus, are usually low
  • erythrocyte sedimentation rate: when performing this blood test, the medical specialist looks at how fast red blood cells fall to the bottom of a test tube, as when swelling and inflammation are present, they fall and settle faster at the bottom of the test tube
  • C-reactive protein: this protein is present when there is inflammation in the body and, while the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and the C-reactive protein can both determine whether there is inflammation in the body, one test will usually show a higher degree of inflammation than the other

Furthermore, in addition to blood tests, your physician may order the following test to determine whether you suffer from lupus or from another health condition:

  • urine tests: the purpose of these tests is to assess the kidney function and is performed to look for the presence of protein or blood in your urine
  • a biopsy: during a biopsy, a small piece of tissue will be collected either from your skin or from your kidneys to subsequently be examined by a pathologist in order to determine whether lupus has caused damage to your skin or kidneys
  • X-rays: by using X-rays, your doctor will be able to determine whether there is damage caused by lupus to your vital organs

Lupus is most often diagnosed in young women in their late teens and adult women younger than 45, as the female hormone estrogen has a connection with the disease. Moreover, lupus tends to affect more African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics, and American-Indians than Caucasians. Lastly, the disease can also occur in children 15 or older. While the exact cause of lupus has not yet been found by medical researchers, it is believed that the disease is the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The following are the risk factors for lupus:

  • sunlight: exposure to sunlight may trigger the onset of lupus in people with a predisposition to this autoimmune disease
  • infections: having infections can also trigger the onset of lupus or cause a relapse in some people who had already struggled with this disease
  • medications: lupus can also be triggered by people who regularly take medications such as blood pressure medications, anti-seizure medications, and antibiotics, but the symptoms of the disease usually disappear when treatment with these drugs is ceased

While you must always take the medication prescribed by your doctor if you suffer from lupus, you may want to try some alternative treatments to alleviate your symptoms. However, before doing so, it is advisable to talk to your physician first. The following are some alternative treatments for lupus that have proven effective in reducing the intensity of the symptoms associated with this autoimmune disease:

  • dehydroepiandrosterone: taking supplements that contain this hormone may reduce lupus flares, but may cause acne in women who are taking it
  • fish oil: this dietary supplement contains omega-3 fatty acids that may be beneficial for people with lupus, but the side effects of this supplement include nausea, belching, and a fishy taste in the mouth
  • acupuncture: this alternative treatment approach uses thin needles that are inserted through certain parts of your body and may help ease the muscle pain associated with lupus
  • deep breathing: you may want to learn special techniques that involve deep breathing to alleviate your respiratory symptoms caused by lupus
  • meditation: this is a great way to keep your stress levels under control

Although there is no known way in which you can avoid developing lupus, there are some risk factors that are believed to trigger the onset of this disease that you can avoid, such as:

  • direct sunlight exposure
  • avoiding medications that may cause lupus
  • developing stress management techniques
  • staying away from people who are sick
  • getting enough sleep every night

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