Thursday, September 2, 2010

Learning about Lupus Medication

Hubby was worried about the side effects of corticosteroids (50 mg Prednisolone) and hydroxycholoquine (200mg Plaquenil) that the doctor prescribed.  But at this time when my lupus was hyperactive and was suppressing my bone marrow function and affecting my kidneys, the benefits outweighed the side effects.  Prednisolone would suppress my immune system while Plaquenil was an effective drug that would help to treat SLE, esp those with skin and joint involvement.  I was also given calcium and iron tablets.  Apparently prednisolone would soften the bones and it was better to have high intake of calcium to prevent it.  Iron was to supplement my blood as I was still having low blood counts.

I noticed that once I took the medicines, I could almost feel my body becomes weak within 15 -20mins.  And this feeling would last for an hour or so. Other than that, I was fine. I was secretly glad that the prednisolone increased my appetite - at least I could eat better now.  Nevertheless, it may come to a point that I have moon face and gained weight which are all side effects of the drugs.

I continued to have sleep problems, dry throat and frequent night urination. Think these were caused by lupus and not so much of the drug side effects since I was experienced these symptoms before I started these drugs. 

I went to doc for follow-up today. He explained to the blood and urine test results that he did one week ago.  He told me no doubt I have systemic lupus (SLE) and it was suppressing my bone marrow function.  It seemed that there were cases where the lupus is attacking the blood cells directly which was not my case.  He explained more about the drug use to suppress my immune system and told me that he would start me with 50mg Azathioprine - an immunosuppresive drug.  At the same time, he would reduce the dosage of Prednisolone to 40mg.  I told me about my appointment with my eye doctor and he wrote me a letter indicating I have SLE and the drugs I was taking and requested for an eye screening.  It seemed that side effects of these drugs plus lupus itself would include eye problems and so it was important to have regular eye checks too.  I have to see doc in one week time and he would do a blood test to monitor my blood, liver and pancreas functions since Azathioprine may have side effects on these 2 areas.

During the visit, I also asked the doc about whether I could live normally and when I could go back to work.  He advised that I could eventually do that but with caution and prevention such as taking the medications diligently, having enough rest, preventing infections and managing stress since it may trigger flare up of lupus.  Meanwhile, I should take things easy and rest more since my lupus was in active stage.     

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