Healthy Living

Common Conditions Related to Lupus

Common Conditions Related to Lupus

Key Takeaways

  • The pain of coping with the medical condition along with making certain adjustments and sacrifices can cause clinical depression.
  • Lupus nephritis causes swelling or scarring to the small blood vessels that are responsible for filtering blood waste in the kidneys. 
  • Lupus can inflame your heart and lungs leading to breathlessness and sharp pain in the chest.

Katy is a chatty young teenager who enjoys watching car races on the weekends. One day she woke up and noticed a discoid rash on her face. Here she was thinking she is young and healthy. The doctors had to perform a skin biopsy before declaring she had Lupus. After a solid diagnosis, she began to feel better after making lifestyle changes and undergoing some treatment. She hopes to be a pediatrician someday in one of the best hospitals in California. She believes she’ll be good at empathizing with children because of everything she’s been through and her suffering after the lupus verdict. Katy tries her best to overcome the stresses and pain of this disease. Her family found a good doctor who helped her with the initial symptoms. Changing her food habits, sitting and finding the time to rest brought about some positive changes. But not too long after, she began experiencing health problems such as clinical depression, hair loss, and fatigue.

Depression

Lupus as a disease can be overwhelming. Depression can persist in people with lupus because of the drug class called corticosteroids. The pain of coping with the medical condition along with making certain adjustments and sacrifices causes clinical depression. Usually, the symptom lasts for weeks and disrupts the patients' daily lives. It is important to talk to a doctor to see if you need medication for depression.

Kidney failure

Does Lupus cause kidney infection? Not exactly. But the drugs used in the treatment of the disease makes you more likely to get an infection of any type. Lupus makes your body turn against its organs and tissues. Lupus nephritis, for example, causes swelling or scarring to the small blood vessels that are responsible for filtering blood waste in the kidney. It makes them unable to remove waste from your blood as well as controlling the amount of fluid in the body. Because of abnormal wastes building in the blood, you develop swelling called edema. The result is that you have extra fluid that the kidney cannot get rid of. Therefore, you will have swelling in your body parts such as your legs, ankles, and around your eyes.

Skin problems

Did you know that two-thirds of people with lupus get some type of effect on their skin? Yes, it is unfortunately true. A skin condition that occurs with lupus causes rashes and lesions. The affected skin areas such the face, legs, neck, and arms are mostly exposed to the sun. There is a more visible butterfly-shaped rash found over the cheeks and around the bridge of your nose. Cigarette smoking may also exacerbate the skin problem. If lupus is suspected, a skin biopsy should be performed. Upon confirmation, a blood test should follow. Seek the expertise of a dermatologist to help in treating the lesions or rashes. So let’s take a closer look at three ways in which cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) skin disease may occur:

  • Chronic
  • Sub-acute
  • Acute

The patient will have a scar on the face beside sores with inflammation. The lesions, on the other hand, develop a red inflamed patch. Additionally, they have a scaling and crusty look.

Care and treatment

If you are sensitive to the sun, wear UVA/UVB sunscreen and a hat when you are outdoors to protect against the scorching sun. Quit smoking. You can apply cortisone ointment which improves the lesions and slows the progression of the disease. However, a cortisone injection is a good alternative to the ointment since it is more effective. Visit your doctor every six months for examination and to minimize scarring and damage to your internal organs.

Joint pain

Joint pain is a common problem experienced by lupus patients, especially the small joints of their hands and feet. The pain shifts from one joint to another. Joint complications in some people with lupus alter the shape of their joints. Lupus patients experience joint stiffness, which is worse in the morning after a night of not moving during sleep. Try showering with warm water. If it fails, use over-the-counter drugs or something like prednisone.

Weight Changes

Weight gain

Taking steroids like corticosteroids may cause increased weight. Consider cutting down calorie intake. Engage in light to moderate exercises to keep the weight down. Get the services of a nutritionist to help manage your weight.

Weight loss

Certain medications cause loss of appetite. Talk to your doctor to identify alternative drugs that feel comfortable in the stomach.

Heart and lungs

Lupus can inflame your heart and lungs, too, especially the lining tissues causing breathlessness and sharp pain in the chest. Oddly enough, large quantities of fluids may build up in those linings causing shortness of breath. When the blood vessels narrow, the patient risks suffering a heart attack and getting stroke. So, it is important to treat both high cholesterol and pressure as fast as possible.

Extreme tiredness

Believe it or not, 90% of people suffering from lupus feel fatigued at some point in the progression of the disease. All they may need is a short nap of 1and ½ hours to recuperate when feeling fatigued. However, they should not go beyond because of troubling sleeping at night. Engage in light exercises to grow your energy levels.

Thyroid problems

Many people with lupus also suffer from thyroid problems. A thyroid problem will affect the brain, kidney, heart, liver, and skin. If you have a progressive attack of the thyroid gland, this leads to underactive thyroid which causes depression, fatigue, and weight gain. Underactive thyroid is treated with thyroid hormone therapy. The body may produce too much thyroid hormones leading to heart palpitations, weight loss, anxiety and mood swings, which is a condition called overactive thyroid. It may be treated with radioactive iodine.

Mouth ulcers

Lupus patients may develop ulcers in one of their digestive organs and that includes the mouth. What is worse is that the saliva glands also fail to produce saliva necessary for digestion. In general, some red sores are painless although other times they can be slightly painful. Oral lesions can be discomforting, besides. The red ulcers develop on the roof of the mouth, lips, inside your cheeks and gums.

Hair loss

Needless to say, lupus causes hair loss. Why? Lupus causes your scalp hair along the hairline to become fragile and break off easily. A discoid lesion scars the hair follicles causing permanent hair loss. The hair on your scalp will then thin out. Other areas where you may lose hair include the eyebrows, body hair, beard, and eyelashes.

Blood and blood vessels

Steroids you take for the treatment of lupus can raise your blood pressure when admitted in high dosages. Lupus also contributes to the development of high cholesterol which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. To reduce bad cholesterol in lupus patients, they can take an anti-malarial drug called hydroxychloroquine for three months. Regular blood checks are necessary.

Closing thoughts

A patient with lupus is advised to get rest when the disease is most active, but continue to do regular exercises when you are up and awake. Get regular urine tests to check for any kidney infections to avoid permanent damage to the kidneys. Dressing your hand and feet in cold weather is important. Also, people might also experience drug-induced lupus because of some specific medication like procainamide, although the condition improves as soon as you discontinue the drug.