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Drug-induced lupus

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Occasionally, medications can cause a syndrome of symptoms very similar to SLE. This is called drug-induced lupus. Medications that may cause this syndrome include hydralazine (used for high blood pressure) and procainamide (used for abnormal heartbeats). Drug-induced lupus almost always disappears after the patient stops taking the medications that caused it.

Causes of Drug-induced lupus

Drug-induced lupus erythematosus occurs as a result of a hypersensitivity reaction to a medication. The drug may react with cell materials, causing the body to react to itself and form antinuclear antibodies.

Drugs that are known to cause this type of reaction in some people include: procainamide, isoniazid, chlorpromazine, penicillamine, sulfasalazine, hydralazine, methyldopa, and quinidine. Symptoms tend to occur after taking the drug for a reasonable period of time, usually at least 3 to 6 months.

In drug-induced lupus erythematosus, the features of arthritis, systemic symptoms, and cardiac and pulmonary (lung) symptoms may be present. Other symptoms associated with SLE, such as lupus nephritis and neurological disease, are rare.

Drug-induced lupus erythematosus also differs from SLE in that the course of the disease is usually not as severe as SLE. Usually, the symptoms resolve within a few days to weeks after stopping the medication. The sex distribution of drug-induced lupus erythematosus is equal, whereas in SLE, women are affected more often than men.

Treatment of Drug-induced lupus

Usually, symptoms resolve within several days to weeks after stopping the medication that caused the symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications are used to treat arthritis and pleurisy.

Corticosteroid creams are used to treat skin rashes. Antimalarial drugs (hydroxychloroquine) are sometimes used for skin and arthritis symptoms. Sensitivity to light is treated by protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Routine eye examinations are recommended to detect eye complications early.

Occasionally, the steroid prednisone is used to treat more severe cases, especially if the heart is involved. Very rarely, severe drug-induced lupus with severe cardiac involvement or significant kidney or neurologic disease requires high doses of steroids and strong medications that suppress the immune system, such as azathioprine or cyclophosphamide.

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Arthritis can develop as a result of an infection. For example, bacteria that cause gonorrhea or Lyme disease can cause arthritis. Infectious arthritis can cause serious damage, but usually clears up completely with antibiotics. Scleroderma is a systemic disease that involves the skin, but may include problems with blood vessels, joints, and internal organs. Fibromyalgia syndrome is soft-tissue rheumatism that doesn't lead to joint deformity, but affects an estimated 5 million Americans, mostly women. The approximate number of cases in the United States of some common forms of arthritis. is an informational out reach of the Consumer Health Information Network. It is our goal to provide up to date information about arthritis and other inflammatory and bone conditions in a easy to understand format.

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