Lupus (SLE) Treatment in Metro Atlanta

Overview of Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), commonly known as lupus, is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues. This condition can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and other organs. Lupus symptoms can range from mild to severe and often come in episodes called flares, followed by periods of remission. At Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia (ARG), we specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of lupus to help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for our patients.

Symptoms of Lupus

  • Joint Pain and Swelling: Persistent pain and swelling in the joints, similar to rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Skin Rashes: Including the characteristic butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose.
  • Fatigue: Chronic tiredness and low energy levels.
  • Fever: Unexplained fevers without infection.
  • Photosensitivity: Sensitivity to sunlight causing rashes or worsening other symptoms.
  • Kidney Problems: Inflammation of the kidneys (lupus nephritis) leading to protein in the urine.
  • Neurological Symptoms: Headaches, confusion, memory loss, and seizures.
  • Raynaud’s Phenomenon: Fingers and toes turning white or blue in response to cold or stress.

Diagnosis of Lupus

  • Physical Examination: Conducted by a rheumatologist at Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia to check for symptoms and signs of lupus.
  • Blood Tests:
    • Antinuclear Antibody (ANA) Test: Commonly positive in lupus patients.
    • Anti-dsDNA and Anti-Smith Antibodies: Specific markers for lupus.
    • Complete Blood Count (CBC): To check for anemia, leukopenia, and thrombocytopenia.
    • Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) and C-Reactive Protein (CRP): Indicators of inflammation.
  • Urine Tests: To check for kidney involvement.
  • Imaging Tests:
    • Chest X-rays: To check for lung involvement.
    • Echocardiograms: To assess heart function.

Treatment Options for Lupus

  • Medications:
    • NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
    • Antimalarial Drugs: Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) to control lupus symptoms.
    • Corticosteroids: To reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system.
    • Immunosuppressants: Drugs such as methotrexate, azathioprine, and mycophenolate mofetil.
    • Biologic Agents: Targeted therapies such as belimumab (Benlysta) to reduce lupus activity.
  • Therapies:
    • Physical Therapy: Exercises to maintain joint flexibility and muscle strength.
    • Occupational Therapy: Techniques to manage daily activities and protect joints.
    • Infusion Therapy: Administered in our in-house infusion suite for medications requiring intravenous delivery.
  • Lifestyle Changes:
    • Sun Protection: Wearing protective clothing and using sunscreen to prevent photosensitivity rashes.
    • Diet: A balanced diet to support overall health and reduce inflammation.
    • Exercise: Regular, low-impact activities such as swimming and walking.
    • Stress Management: Techniques such as yoga and meditation.
  • Regular Monitoring:
    • Kidney Function Tests: Regular urine tests to monitor for lupus nephritis.
    • Blood Pressure Monitoring: Keeping track of blood pressure to prevent complications.

Living with Lupus

  • Managing Flares: Recognizing early signs of flares and taking steps to minimize their impact.
  • Daily Living: Balancing rest and activity to manage fatigue and maintain function.
  • Medication Adherence: Taking prescribed medications as directed to control symptoms and prevent flares.
  • Support Systems: Joining support groups and connecting with others who have lupus for emotional support.

Frequently Asked Questions | Lupus (SLE)

What causes lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disorder with an unknown exact cause. It is believed to result from a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors.

How is lupus diagnosed?
Lupus is diagnosed through a combination of physical examinations, blood tests, urine tests, and imaging studies, often requiring multiple criteria to be met.

Can lifestyle changes help manage lupus symptoms?
Yes, protecting yourself from the sun, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress can help manage lupus symptoms.

What are the common triggers for lupus flares?
Common triggers include sunlight, infections, stress, and certain medications.

Is lupus hereditary?
There is a genetic component to lupus, but having a family member with lupus does not guarantee that you will develop it.

What is the role of antimalarial drugs in treating lupus?
Antimalarial drugs like hydroxychloroquine help control lupus symptoms and prevent flares by modulating the immune system.

How can I manage fatigue associated with lupus?
Managing fatigue involves balancing rest and activity, staying hydrated, eating a nutritious diet, and following your treatment plan.

Contact Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia

For comprehensive lupus care, schedule an appointment with Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia. Call us at 404-255-5956 or use our online contact form. We proudly serve patients in the metro Atlanta area and beyond, providing expert care and personalized treatment plans.

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