Healthy Heart

5 Tips On Living With Lupus

5 Tips On Living With Lupus

Key Takeaways

  • Lupus reoccurs from time to time and there are no clear symptoms
  • African American women are more likely to develop lupus 
  • Make sure you get proper rest at night and make time to rest during the day

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can cause harm anywhere in the body. It can manifest in your organs, joints or even skin. When affected by lupus, your immune systems does not work not as intended. Your immune system is supposed to combat bacteria, germs and viruses. The body is protected from these intruders through the production of antibodies created by our immune system. 

When affected by lupus, your body does not differentiate between foreign intruders and healthy tissues, causing auto-antibodies to combat and fight healthy tissue. These antibodies can cause inflammation, aches and damage to the body. Lupus - for some - tends to develop during childbirth, which may be activated by certain medications or even sunlight. Lupus has no cure but you can alter your lifestyle to help control its symptoms. Some people experience mild lupus when there is a minor attack on just one or two aspects of the body. Other people experience severe and life-threatening lupus where the body has a tough time remaining active.

Lupus reoccurs from time to time, and demonstrates no clear symptoms. You feel ill when symptoms get worse and when they improve, you recover. Lupus can be difficult to diagnose. No test can help determine if you have lupus. It is not certain what causes lupus, but it most likely develops if you receive certain genes from your parents. There are environmental factors like sunlight exposure, stress, viral infections, and hormone rushes that are thought to contribute to the development the disease. You cannot contact lupus through sex, because it is not contagious in any form.    

Research has shown that women between the ages of 15 to 44 are more likely to develop lupus. Men can also get lupus between these ages. However the disease is more common in women than in men. Lupus can develop in anyone, regardless of ethnicity. However, African American women are more likely to develop lupus. 

Tips For Living Healthily With Lupus

Eating Well

  • Abandon red meat in favour of fatty fish - There is no known diet for lupus, but it is recommended that you switch from red meat to fatty fish. Red meat can contribute to heart disease, due to its high saturated fat content. Fish contains omega 3 fatty acids that can help contain swelling in the body, because they are polyunsaturated fatty acids that defend one from heart disease. This diet will work well for people who suffer from lupus with a high risk of heart disease.
  • Reduce or skip the salt - Too much salt can cause your blood pressure to increase, resulting in a heart attack. Lupus is known to put you at risk for heart disease.
  • Herbs and supplements – Thunder God vine and turmeric have been publicized on the web to get rid of lupus symptoms, but the evidence of them working is minute. Consult your doctor before taking them.
  • Avoid nightshade vegetables – Some people with lupus feel worse when they eat nightshade vegetables, though there is no scientific evidence for this. To be on the safe side, avoid vegetables that trigger your symptoms.
  • Avoid alfalfa – Alfalfa contains amino acids that can cause your immune system to strain itself and exacerbate lupus symptoms.
  • Limit saturated and trans fats - Steroids can boost your appetite, increasing your weight, so make sure you watch what you eat. 
  • Eat calcium rich foods – Since the steroids medication that you take to control lupus might have unfriendly effects such as bone thinning, eat foods high in calcium and vitamin D concentrate to avoid fractures.    
  • Avoid alcohol – Some medicines can less effective when alcohol is consumed. Consult your doctor before proceeding to continue consuming alcohol. 
  • Stop smoking - This is the most vital lifestyle choice to change. Cigarette smoking is harmful to one's health, and if you have lupus it is even more dangerous. Cigarettes can accelerate and aggravate lupus.

Rest

People with lupus experiences different symptoms, but the one common symptom they all experience is fatigue. Sometimes you can really feel tired, but sleeping or resting doesn’t really make the weariness go away. Wanting to rest doesn't necessarily mean you are sluggish, your body actually wants you to take it easy, and adequate rest is extremely important.

Ways to help avoid fatigue:

  • Get adequate sleep. Don't limit yourself to the eight and nine hour rule. Sleep as much as your body needs; if you are experiencing a sleeping disorder, consult your doctor.
  • Don't push yourself; take rest or naps when you need to. You can plan for these times during your day.
  • Come up with a simple time table and make sure you include outdoor activities, work, and time at home. Don't forget to include time for resting and sleeping.
  • Don't push yourself if your body is not up to the task. Rest and try again in accordance with your energy levels and time table..

Emotional rest is very important too. There is a fact sheet available online called “The Up and Downs” that contains information and suggestions on how to cope with stress. Other things you can do to stay healthy are:

  • Don't stay in the sun for too long, especially if you are sensitive to it.
  • Wear protective clothes like hats and long-sleeved shirts. Use sun screen (SPF 15 protection is highly recommended).
  • Consume a healthy, balanced diet, with foods that have less fat but are high in fiber.
  • Always visit a doctor when you feel like you are contracting an infection.
  • Consult your doctor if you are on birth control pills or want to become pregnant. 
  • Visit your dentist and get an eye exam once a year.
  • It is also advisable to go for breast exams and pap tests regularly.

Exercise

Exercise is good for the mind and spirit. Exercises such as walking and swimming will help to:

  • Regulate your weight
  • Increase muscle strength
  • Avoid joint complications
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve cardiovascular health (your blood vessels and heart)

It is advisable to consult your doctor before you start an exercise program, and have a friend who can support you. Start slowly, and begin to increase the intensity of your workout with time.  

Understanding and Evading Flares

Recognizing warning signs can assist you and your doctor in alternative treatment options. Some warning signs are:

  • Increased exhaustion
  • Aching
  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Stomach upsets
  • Dizziness or headaches
  • Any new symptoms you haven’t experienced before

Ways of minimizing a flare:

  • Recognise impending signs
  • Consult your doctor
  • Develop a support system to minimize stress
  • Exercise, rest well, eat healthy and avoid sunlight

Get Enough Sleep

Lack of enough sleep can cause fatigue, which as a result can intensify pain. Make sure you get proper rest at night and make time to rest during the day in the form of naps. In some cases, lack of exercise can cause fatigue. Adequate sleep will get you through the day comfortably.