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Health Tips, Lupus

Drug-Induced Lupus: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Management

Lupus, a complex autoimmune disease, can sometimes be triggered by medications. This variant, known as drug-induced lupus, shares similarities with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) but has distinct features. Let’s delve into this condition’s causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options. 

  • Medications: Drug-induced lupus occurs due to a reaction to specific prescription drugs. While no single test can diagnose it, certain medications are commonly associated with this condition. 
  • Common Culprits:
    Hydralazine: Used to treat high blood pressure.
    Procainamide: Used for irregular heart rhythms. 
    Quinidine: Also used for irregular heart rhythms. 
    Other drugs: Such as antibiotics, anticonvulsants, and hormones, may also contribute.1 2
  • “The most common medicines known to cause drug-induced lupus erythematosus are:
    – Isoniazid
    – Hydralazine
    – Procainamide
    – Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha inhibitors (such as etanercept, infliximab and adalimumab) 
    – Minocycline
    – Quinidine
    – Other less common drugs may also cause the condition. These may include: 
    – Anti-seizure medicines 
    – Capoten 
    – Chlorpromazine 
    – Methyldopa 
    – Sulfasalazine 
    – Levamisole, typically as a contaminant of cocaine 
    – Cancer immunotherapy drugs such as pembrolizumab can also cause a variety of autoimmune reactions including drug-induced lupus. 
    – Symptoms of drug-induced lupus tend to occur after taking the drug for at least 3 to 6 months.”


Similar to regular lupus (SLE):

  • Muscle pain. 
  • Joint pain, sometimes with swelling. 
  • Fever. 
  • Fatigue. 
  • Weight loss. 
  • Inflammation around the lungs or heart causing discomfort. 
  • Symptoms typically appear after several months to years of continuous medication use.3 5 6
  • Physical Examination
    – Swollen and tender joints. 
    – Skin rashes. 
  • Laboratory Tests:
    Antinuclear Antibody (ANA) Test: Detects immune system stimulation.
    Complete Blood Count (CBC): Reveals anemia and abnormal white blood cell or platelet counts.
    Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR): Measures inflammation.
    Kidney and Liver Assessment: Evaluates organ function.
    Urinalysis: Detects kidney involvement.
    Biopsy: May be necessary to assess kidney damage
  • Imaging Tests
    Chest X-ray: Checks for lung inflammation. 
    Echocardiogram: Assesses heart function. 
  • Skin Biopsy: Confirms skin-related lupus.3 8
  • Discontinuation of Causative Medication: Drug-induced lupus is usually temporary. Symptoms often clear up within weeks to months after stopping the offending drug. 
  • Managing Symptoms
    – Pain relief (NSAIDs). 
    – Corticosteroids for inflammation. 
    – Immunosuppressive drugs 
  • Holistic Approaches
    Full body detox: Helping the body release the toxicity from meds can speed up recovery as well as address other underlying drivers for dis-ease that created the need for meds in the first place. Find a Functional Medicine Practitioner to help you with this.  
    Diet: using food sensitivity testing to pinpoint exactly what foods the client is causing an inflammatory response and what foods are not, is a critical step to the successful resolution of medication-induced Lupus. Recommended testing available to the public.  
    * Food Sensitivity Testing Profile 1
    * Food Sensitivity Complete 
    Stress Management: Stress exacerbates symptoms.  
    Exercise: Gentle physical activity. 
    Sun Protection: Wearing a hat and long sleeves can minimize sun exposure until symptoms resolve. 
  • Recovery Rates
    – Most cases improve significantly after discontinuing the medication. 
    – Rarely, symptoms persist even after stopping the drug

Drug-induced lupus presents unique challenges, but early diagnosis, prompt cessation of the causative medication, and holistic self-care can lead to positive outcomes. If you suspect drug-induced lupus, consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.1 3 8

Are you ready to address the actual cause of your symptoms and
stop taking a bunch of drugs that only offer side effects?

Then I want to encourage you to schedule an introductory call with us…


  1. Drug-Induced Lupus: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis – WebMD 
  2. Drug-induced lupus: Symptoms, causes, treatments, and FAQs 
  3. Medication-Induced Lupus Symptoms and Treatment – Verywell Health 
  4. Lupus – Symptoms & causes – Mayo Clinic 
  5. Medications that can cause drug-induced lupus 
  6. Drug Induced Lupus: What Is It and Are You At Risk? – Healthline 
  7. Symptoms of Drug-Induced Lupus | Lupus Canada 
  8. What is drug-induced lupus? | Lupus Foundation of America 
  9. Drug-induced lupus erythematosus – MedlinePlus 
  10. Lupus – Diagnosis & treatment – Mayo Clinic 
  11. en.wikipedia.org