- National Resource Center on Lupus
- Lupus symptoms
- What is inflammation?
What is inflammation?
Inflammation usually happens when your immune system is fighting an infection or injury. It’s a normal part of your body’s healing process.
But when you have an autoimmune disease like lupus, your immune system gets confused. Instead of fighting off an infection, it attacks healthy tissue in your body. This can cause inflammation in lots of different body parts.
What are the symptoms of inflammation?
Symptoms of inflammation depend on its intensity and where it happens in the body. For example, inflammation in the joints or skin can cause symptoms like:
- Heat (warm to the touch)
But in other parts of the body, it can cause very different symptoms. For example, inflammation in the brain can cause confusion, and inflammation in the lungs can cause chest pain and shortness of breath.
What’s the treatment for inflammation?
Your doctor may recommend medicines to help with inflammation in your body. The most common types of medicine used to treat lupus inflammation are:
- Steroids, like prednisone. Steroids help to reduce inflammation by imitating cortisol, an anti-inflammatory hormone in your body. They can cause a range of side effects, including swelling and weight gain — but sometimes they’re needed to treat active inflammation.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®). NSAIDs work by reducing chemicals in the body that cause inflammation. They can help to reduce inflammation without the side effects of steroids.
- Antimalarials, like hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil®). Antimalarials work by reducing autoantibodies (proteins in the blood that attack healthy cells and tissues). They can help reduce inflammation with very few side effects.
Learn more about medicines to treat inflammation and other lupus symptoms.
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