There is currently no cure for lupus. However, a person living with the condition may be able to experience complete remission, in which their symptoms disappear for a sustained period.
Lupus is a long-term autoimmune disease that can affect several areas of the body, typically causing inflammation and pain. It occurs when a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues in the body.
In this article, we will discuss what remission means for people living with lupus, treatments for the condition, and when a person should consider speaking with a doctor.
Healthcare professionals define remission as a period when signs and symptoms of a disease significantly reduce. Experts have yet to conclude the exact time frame that signifies remission in lupus.
The authors of a 2016 study involving 532 people with lupus defined complete remission as a period of at least 3 years in which lupus symptoms completely disappear. They found that
Lupus affects each person differently. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, some people may experience regular flares of symptoms, while others may have flares every few years and be in remission the rest of the time.
The goal in clinical practice is for lupus symptoms to be in remission for as long as possible. Research suggests that when symptoms are in remission for a significant length of time, there is less long-term damage to a person’s body.
Experiencing prolonged periods in remission may benefit a person with lupus in several ways,
There is currently no treatment available that can cure lupus. However, there are medications that
A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medications can help reduce inflammation in the joints and muscles, as well as treat mild pain and fevers.
Antimalarial medications, which typically treat symptoms of malaria, may also help prevent lupus flares and some lupus symptoms, such as:
Examples of these medications include chloroquine phosphate (Aralen) and hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil).
Corticosteroids may help reduce pain and inflammation in the body. These medications can be effective at treating lupus symptoms quickly in high doses.
However, due to the high potency of this medication, a doctor will gradually lower the dose once a person starts to respond to it. If a person stops taking corticosteroids suddenly, it may harm their body.
Corticosteroid medications can come in several forms, including:
- creams to apply to the skin
Immunosuppressant medications can help calm the overactive immune system that is present in a person with lupus.
However, these medications can cause several side effects and hinder the body’s ability to tackle infections. Therefore, a doctor may only prescribe an immunosuppressant treatment if a person has severe lupus symptoms that may be affecting their major organs and other treatments have not been effective.
This type of medication may help control and improve symptoms of lupus. One example is belimumab (Benlysta).
A person with lupus may be vulnerable to developing blood clots, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. A doctor may prescribe a person with blood thinners, such as warfarin, to help prevent blood clots.
Some people may also try alternative therapies to help manage their lupus symptoms.
Some of these
However, there is currently no research to definitively suggest these can help treat lupus. Therefore, a person should speak with a healthcare professional before trying them.
A person should contact a doctor if they experience symptoms of lupus. Some of the most common symptoms can include:
- swelling or pain in the joints
- sensitivity to light
- pain in the chest when taking deep breaths
A doctor can work out whether lupus or another health condition is causing someone’s symptoms.
People living with lupus should also consider speaking with a healthcare professional about which treatment options may work best for them. Additionally, if a person is experiencing unpleasant side effects from one medication, a doctor may be able to recommend an alternative.
A person with lupus may experience times when their symptoms flare and other times when they are in remission. Healthcare professionals have not defined an exact time frame that signifies remission in lupus. Instead, the length of remission will be different for each person.
The current goal in clinical practice is to keep lupus symptoms in remission for as long as possible to improve overall quality of life and minimize organ damage.
Some treatment options for lupus include corticosteroids, antimalarial medications, and anti-inflammatory medications. A person should contact a doctor if they experience symptoms of lupus, or if they wish to find out more about which lupus treatments may work best for them.