Symptoms of drug-induced lupus are often similar to symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and may include:
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain, occasionally accompanied by swelling
- Weight loss
- Sun sensitivity
- Inflammation that produces pain or discomfort around the lungs or heart
When do symptoms of drug-induced lupus develop?
Drug-induced lupus can arise months to years after exposure to these medications and may resolve within days to months after stopping the drug. Symptoms typically appear after several months or even years of continuous therapy with the medication.
Symptoms may appear as soon as 3 weeks after you begin using the medication. On average, however, it takes at least 3-6 months and sometimes even up to 2 years for the symptoms to appear.
For example, in people treated for 1-2 years with currently used doses of high-risk drugs, approximately 5% of those taking hydralazine and 20% of those taking procainamide will develop drug-induced lupus. With most other drugs, the risk is minimum, and usually, less than 0.1% of those taking the medication will develop drug-induced lupus.
Lupus-like symptoms usually resolve or disappear within 6 months after these drugs are stopped. However, the delay in onset can make it difficult to identify the trigger drug.
What drugs can cause drug-induced lupus?
Drug-induced lupus erythematosus is a type of lupus, which is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly targets and attacks healthy tissue. This condition occurs as a reaction after exposure to certain medications.
The most common medicines linked to drug-induced lupus are:
- Hydralazine, which is used to treat high blood pressure or hypertension
- Procainamide, which is used to treat irregular heart rhythms
- Isoniazid, which is an antibiotic that is used to treat tuberculosis
Men are more likely to develop drug-induced lupus because they are administered these drugs more frequently. However, not everyone who takes these drugs develops the disease.
How is drug-induced lupus diagnosed?
Doctors may struggle to detect drug-induced lupus because symptoms usually appear a long time after you start taking a certain medication. There are no widely accepted diagnostic criteria for drug-induced lupus.
In order to confirm a diagnosis, your doctor may perform a physical examination and inquire about your medical history. You may be asked to provide blood and urine samples to ensure that your symptoms are not caused by another immune system disorder.
You may have drug-induced lupus if you feel better a few weeks after stopping specific medications.
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Kauffman CL. Drug-Induced Lupus Erythematosus. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1065086-overview
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