When the immune system mistakenly “thinks” your body is invading itself, and attacks the body by pouring billions of antibodies into your bloodstream, the resulting symptoms you experience may be an autoimmune disease called lupus.
Affecting your joints, skin, lungs, muscles, heart and blood vessels, lupus is a chronic condition with no cure. Fortunately, symptoms can be managed with special medications and lifestyle changes recommended by a lupus doctor in NYC.
Signs of lupus in its early stages may be misdiagnosed by doctors who are not trained rheumatologists. The type and severity of symptoms vary among lupus patients, but typically involve the following:
- Swollen, painful joints
- Muscle pain
- Fever with no known cause
- Butterfly-type rashes spreading across the nose bridge and cheeks
- Hair loss or thinning
- Sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation
- Swelling around the eyes and in the legs
- Swollen lymph glands
- Chronic fatigue
Up to 70 percent of people with lupus also present dermatological symptoms, such as red, thick scaly patches or heavy rashes covering the skin.
Although lupus is not a fatal autoimmune disorder, some people do suffer recurring, severe attacks of lupus that require hospitalization. If you have lupus that does not threaten organ functioning, you can expect to live a normal life as long as you follow the instructions given by your rheumatologist and lead as healthy a lifestyle as possible.
Your lupus doctor in Staten Island will diagnose lupus by performing an antinuclear antibody test, urinalysis or other blood tests, if needed. Following a definitive diagnosis, you and your doctor can discuss developing a treatment plan according to your age, general health and symptom severity and types. The goals of lupus treatment include reducing inflammation, suppressing an overactive immune system, preventing flare-ups of lupus and controlling fatigue and joint pain.
Lupus patients typically take one or more of the following medications:
- NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin
- for reducing inflammation and suppressing immune system activity
- Antimalarial drugs (also called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs) that decrease symptom severity and may help prevent recurring flare-ups
- Immunomodulating drugs for suppressing the immune system
- Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) therapy when lupus affecting organs or vasculitis is present
New immunosuppressive drugs currently being investigated for the treatment of lupus do not suppress the immune system in general, but instead target specific immune cells to control immune system activity. In fact, some of these new immunosuppressant drugs have been approved by the FDA for treating rheumatoid arthritis.
If you have lupus, you may also need other medications to treat health problems commonly co-occurring with lupus, such as diuretics to relieve fluid retention, antihypertensives for high blood pressure and bone-strengthening medicines for osteoporosis.
Your lupus doctor in Jersey City will also strongly recommend you make positive lifestyle changes if you are not already engaging in them. Getting regular exercise improves energy and muscle health, reducing stress helps prevent flare-ups and eating a healthy diet are all essential for successfully managing lupus symptoms.
If you are suffering symptoms of lupus, or already know you have lupus and would like to consult with a professional rheumatologist about developing a treatment plan, call Regional Orthopedics today to make an appointment at one of our locations in Jersey City, Staten Island, New York City or Brooklyn.