Healthy Living

Alongside Lupus: Digital Companionship for Lupus Patients

Alongside Lupus: Digital Companionship for Lupus Patients

Key Takeaways

  • There are apps that can help a lupus patient manage medications.
  • There are apps that can help monitor and track a patient's pain and stress levels and symptoms.
  • There are apps that can help and analyze how much sleep a patient needs and how to get the best sleep.

Lupus has been discussed on television shows like House M.D, E.R, in movies like Gross Anatomy, and even in entertainment news with headlines reading Selena Gomez’ Lupus. But, not everyone knows exactly what lupus is. Despite the mentions of lupus in some television shows, movies and headlines, this chronic medical illness is hardly understood by the public. To start with, lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease where it causes damage in any part of the body - be it the skin, joints or organs. Lupus is considered as a chronic illness since its symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks or even years.

A person diagnosed with lupus has damage in the immune system.The immune system is responsible for fighting off bacteria, viruses, germs, and other “foreign” entities. The system does so by producing antibodies which fight off all the “foreign” entities. However, a person diagnosed with lupus has autoimmunity,which means that his or her immune system cannot identify the “foreign” entities from the body’s healthy cells. This results to the antibodies attacking every cell including those that are healthy. Having dysfunctional antibodies can cause inflammation, pain, and damage to the body. According to statistics, approximately 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with lupus, but about 5 million people worldwide are diagnosed. About 16,000 new cases are reported each year. In addition, people aged 15 to 44 are more likely to develop lupus.

Living with lupus

Since there is no definite cure for lupus yet, science and the medical field have been doing research and various studies to find a cure for this chronic illness. However, early diagnosis and treatment can help manage the symptoms. In order to aid with life having lupus,there are important factors that a diagnosed person can follow.

Exercise

Exercise can help to combat fatigue, keep the body active, and set good moods. This helps improve well-being and can delay or prevent disabilities. However, do not hastily decide to start with an exercise routine right away. Always consult with a doctor, physician, and even with physical therapists and occupational therapists. Here are some benefits of exercise for lupus diagnosed people:

  • It can strengthen body parts affected by lupus such as the lungs, heart and bones.
  • It can help circulate the chemicals involved in inflammation.
  • It can help control weight gain which may be some of your medications’ side effects.
  • It can make muscles less stiff.
  • It can help boost mental health, self-esteem, and help cope with life stressors.

Nutrition and Diet

Despite the symptoms associated with lupus,there are no certain types of special diets specified for lupus patients. However, it is still very helpful to stick to a balanced diet for an overall healthy diet. Here are some quick tips on nutrition and diet:

  • Avoid alfalfa since it mimics lupus-like symptoms and flares.
  • Some types of food may be cut back or added to your diet plan due to the medications you are taking.
  • Moderate alcohol intake is advised.
  • If you are a vegan or vegetarian, it is advised to take additional vitamins and minerals that can only be obtained from animal meat.

If you have questions on what kind of food to include or omit from your diet, then consult your doctors first before trying out a new diet.

Digital Assistance

Since we are now living in digital times, a person with lupus can benefit from the modern era we are now in. With just the touch and swipe of your fingers, applications from your smartphone can help you with your daily life. It can range from your medications, heart rates, symptoms diaries, and so much more. But with various apps to choose from, here are some top picks enlisted for you:

  • Medisafe
    • This app helps you manage your medications. It can help you with the dosage and schedule of all the medications you have to take for the day. Information obtained from this app can also be shared and verified with your pharmacist and doctors. Blood pressure and weight can be tracked with this app.
    • Medisafe is rated 4.5 stars out of 5 from Google Play Store (Android users). It is relatively a light app designed to do a lot of work without taking up so much storage. To ensure you take your medications on time, an alarm is available that is highly customizable for your preference. Automatic backup and restore of data is available on this app as well.
  • Pain Diary
    • This app allows you to monitor your pain score, your stress level, and track your symptoms for every day. In addition, this app helps you connect with people who have similar conditions as you and can swap tips from one another.
    • Pain Diary is rated 4 stars out of 5 in Google Play Store (Android users). The app allows you to have detailed color pain drawings to express the location and intensity of your pain. In addition, by using this app, it helps the researchers from University of Zurich to use pain information to combat chronic pain for patients all over the world. But don’t worry, the app does not give out personal information. It gives its users full anonymity for this matter.
  • My Medical Info
    • This app is helpful for storing your health histories and insurance details. This can lessen your time when filling up forms in clinics or hospitals. Also, this app helps you in programming your doctor's’ appointments and schedule for the medications you are going to take.
    • My Medical Info is also rated 4 stars out of 5 in Google Play Store. This app can help keep track of your records and your family as well. In fact, it works together with your calendar for your doctor appointments and prescription due dates.
  • Fooducate
    • This app helps you keep track of your diet and food intake. It can help you make healthier choices by configuring the app through how much daily caloric intake you are planning, how to achieve a healthy body weight, and how to provide various information about the nutritional values of your food. Also, this can work with other fitness apps that can monitor your heart rate, physical activities, and total calories burned during the exercise.
    • Fooducate receives a 4.3-star rating. Out of all diet companion apps that you can find, it has won 1st place in the US Surgeon General Healthy App Challenge. The app helps tailor the best diet option, making it personalized and safe. It helps you compare ingredients from store-bought products that you have for a healthier option.
  • Sleep Cycle
    • This app helps you get the most out of your sleep each night. It helps analyze how much sleep you need and the quality of your sleep. It sets the appropriate alarm for you during your light sleeps to help you feel less groggy and help you get refreshed the next day.
    • Sleep Cycle is commended by its users with 4.5-star rating in total. This app promises to measure your sleep movement through a sensitive accelerometer. Detailed sleep statistics and sleep graphs are available every night for you. However, for optimal results, follow the app’s direction on how to place or position your phone during your sleep.