Depending on the drug, steroids may be given
, as pills, as an injection, or applied
to the skin in a cream or ointment.
High doses of prednisone may
be used for short periods of time. The dose is then gradually reduced.
How It Works
Corticosteroids suppress the
(systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE).
Why It Is Used
Corticosteroids are used to control
moderate to severe problems caused by lupus, including inflammation, pain, and
tissue damage throughout the body.
Low-dose corticosteroids may be
used to treat:
- Joint or muscle pain, skin rash, fatigue,
fevers, and other symptoms that affect your quality of life and are not
relieved by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs () or antimalarials.
- Severe skin
rashes, which may respond to steroid creams or ointments, shots, or pills.
However, the skin symptoms may return when you stop using the steroid.
High-dose corticosteroids are used to treat severe or
life-threatening problems including:
- Inflammation of blood vessels ().
- Inflammation of the heart
(), tissues around the heart (), the tissue that lines the chest cavity
(), or the tissues surrounding the intestines
- Anemia due to the
destruction of red blood cells () or low platelet count ().
High-dose corticosteroids may also ease
symptoms such as severe
headache, confusion, and nerve damage that causes problems with
How Well It Works
Corticosteroids often dramatically
improve many symptoms of lupus. Some conditions respond in as little as a few
days, while others may take several weeks of corticosteroid therapy.
effects of corticosteroids can include:
- Decreased pain in joints and
- Decreased pain and inflammation from skin
- Decreased inflammation in blood vessels and in the tissues
surrounding the heart and lungs.
- Decreased central nervous system
symptoms, such as severe headaches and confusion.
Corticosteroids are often combined with other drugs such as mycophenolate mofetil, or
cyclophosphamide with or without azathioprine.
Corticosteroids are prescribed and monitored carefully because they cause
significant side effects.
Corticosteroids cause a wide variety of
side effects, some of which can be severe. The risk of side effects is
especially high when corticosteroids are taken in high doses for long periods
of time. There are times when it can be difficult to distinguish between
corticosteroid side effects and lupus symptoms, such as fatigue or joint pain.