Because of the challenges of treating lupus, health professionals frequently use steroids to treat lupus patients, but this can affect children and teens differently when compared to adult lupus patients.
Lupus has different symptoms in each patient, making it difficult for health professionals to treat the disease. For this reason, they typically implement a wide range of medications to treat the disease, and one of these medications is steroids.
To resolve the concerns about this health phenomenon, Emily von Scheven, a pediatrician based in California, agreed to an interview.
“Mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD) is closely related to lupus in that many of the clinical manifestations and laboratory test results can be similar,” she said. “And the treatment for different autoimmune diseases can be quite similar because they share the problem of inflammation. In some cases, we have some information about the underlying abnormality in the immune system that is causing the inflammation, and we have treatments that are specific for that problem. An example of this is systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis: where two circulating factors, Interleukin (IL)-1 and IL-6, are very important. And we happen to have medications that are specific inhibitors of those factors.”
Some health professionals are saying that science needs to develop new ways to treat lupus to keep patients safe. Unfortunately, treating lupus is difficult, and doctors have a variety of medications and combinations to choose from.
Von Scheven went on to explain the treatment-specific complications that relate to lupus.
“However, for other conditions, such as lupus and MCTD, we have not identified a single immunologic factor, so we use medications that target many different components of the immune system, such as steroids,” she said. “Another factor that determines the choice of medication is the specific part of the body that is affected, and this can vary between patients and across conditions. For example, some people have kidney disease and some do not. Some people have arthritis and some do not. Depending on which part of the body is affected, doctors may use different medications. Imuran is an immunosuppressive medication, like steroids, that is used in both MCTD and lupus.”
Ultimately, it is up to a patient’s primary care doctor to determine whether he or she should change treatments.