Remission is a term used to describe the reduction, into nothing, of the symptoms of an autoimmune or chronic disease for three or more years. In lupus, remission includes the symptoms and the blood markers of inflammation as well, so the symptoms are not just being “masked” or “endured.” In an analysis of people with SLE over 32 years, 14.5% of the 532 people were able to achieve complete remission for 3 years.
During remission, people with lupus may feel normal, aside from the side effects of medication. However, although medication can be tapered at this time, it shouldn’t be stopped without consultation with a doctor, because the lupus has not gone away – just dormant.
Flares and Remission
Medication can help make remission an achievable goal, but there are many factors involved and remission in lupus can be unpredictable making lupus treatment something of a puzzle. Every person with lupus is affected by their diet, environment, and genetics, and not all of these can be controlled. This is remission, too, not a cure: Remission can last as short a time as 3 months (not even meeting the definition of remission!) and flares can happen even after 10 years without symptoms, making long-term management and treatment of SLE important.
Flares are the sudden increase of symptoms in response to something that triggers the inflammatory response. Triggers are unique for each person, but a few common flare triggers are allergens, temperature, diet and stress. People with lupus often figure out their own triggers through trial and error, but not every trigger is completely avoidable.
How to Achieve Remission in Lupus
The current treatments for lupus focus on reducing symptoms and increasing quality of life. This includes protecting the organs from damage and reducing pain, but also reducing the inflammation responsible for the symptoms of lupus. This can sometimes lead to complete remission of symptoms.
Lupus medications include antimalarials, glucorticoids, and corticosteroids. Medication is an important part of treatment, and one of the best ways to make your way to remission. You can read more about medications here. Diet can also be an important tool for achieving remission.
However, even if complete remission isn’t possible, partial remission can leave you with more energy and ability, known in the community as “spoons,” to take care of yourself and do the things you enjoy. Treatment and a healthy lifestyle can also keep you out of the hospital, which can be costly in both time and money. This is why treatment usually focuses on finding a way to give people with lupus lighter symptoms, not complete remission.
A Lupus Warriors Takeaway
Remission is very possible for people with lupus, but the goal should be to live your life with minimal pain and fatigue. Medication is an important part of this, but so is exercise, diet, and avoiding flare triggers.
Many Lupus Warriors are familiar with chronic pain -- the kind that lasts for...
Many Lupus Warriors rely on over the counter medications to control their symptoms, but...
Fertility problems are common. Some women turn to in vitro fertilization to help get...