The effects of systemic lupus erythematosus, which is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that causes the onset of red scaly skin, can be controlled when patients are administered anti-malarial drugs.
What is Lupus?
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a kind of diseases which leads to long term chronic inflammation of the body, which usually starts from the face and may even lead to the internal organs such as the kidneys, joints and even the brain. Under this disease, the body’s immune system erroneously attacks body’s healthy tissues. SLE frequently affects the musculoskeletal system and is often characterized by orthopedic manifestations such as tendon rupture, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteomyelitis, joint pains etc. Orthopedic surgery, when performed on SLE patients, requires intense pre-operative preparation and post-operative care due to the complex nature of the disease.
It occurs more commonly in women than in men. Although its occurrence is not restricted by age, it usually affects people between the ages of 15 to 45 years. Amongst all the races, Asians and African Americans are the most affected. One of the biggest challenges for researchers is that the actual cause of Lupus is yet not identified which makes it difficult to formulate the right drugs. Even after extensive research, there are no definite conclusions regarding the cause of Lupus.
As mentioned earlier, the cause has not been identified for this disease; therefore there is no cure for Lupus. Lupus treatment only involves controlling the symptoms so that it does not cause any severe effects to the internal organs.
According to a latest research, headed by Ian Bruce, MD, professor of rheumatology at the University of Manchester, malarial drugs have been shown to control the damage caused by lupus. Researchers compared the effects of malarial drugs against lupus against other therapies used for controlling lupus symptoms. The rate of damage caused by lupus was lowered by 37% with the use of malarial drugs in those patients who were diagnosed organ damage and were treated only with malarial drugs.
The use of anti-malarial drugs has been reported to have the following effects while treating for lupus:
- Improves pain in the muscles and joints
- Helps to improve skin rashes
- Avoids inflammation of vital organs and their linings such as the heart and the lungs
- Improves other symptoms associated with lupus such as fever and fatigue
- Also helps to prevent the spread of lupus to other organs such as the central nervous system and kidneys
- 50% reduction in flares
Anti-malarial drugs are an ideal way to control the severe symptoms of lupus and are prescribed to many patients for the rest of their lives, thus it has also earned the name ‘lupus life insurance’.
According to various studies, those lupus patients who are on anti- malarial drugs outlive those who are not on these drugs. Anti- malarial drugs are specifically effective for treatment of subacute cutaneous lupus, mouth sores associated with lupus and discoid lupus. In many cases, they are also helpful in treatment of Sjogren’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
However, it is important to note that anti-malarial drugs are not the complete treatment; although they help to control or lessen many symptoms, they cannot form the only treatment plan for a patient suffering from lupus. These drugs are not effective against severe symptoms of lupus such as diseases which involve the nervous system or blood vessels. As lupus starts spreading to these parts of the body, additional medication consisting of immunosuppressive drugs are added that help to reduce the injury.
How are Anti-malarial Drugs useful?
Anti-malarial drugs help to control the onslaught of lupus by amending the immune system in such a way that lupus cannot harm your body while also ensuring that your body does not become predisposed for infection. These drugs also help to protect the affected skin from the UV rays while also minimizing the skin lesions which do not respond to ointments and creams. Anti-malarial drugs are clubbed with other medications such as cytotoxic drugs, corticosteroids etc. to ensure that the symptoms of lupus are suppressed and do not spread to the entire body.
Anti-malarial drugs therefore are a boon for patients suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus, as it majorly helps to control the symptoms while allowing patients to lead a normal life.