Healthy Living

Self-Care Tips for Lupus

Self-Care Tips for Lupus

Do you have lupus? Do you want to know how can you be at your best? Lupus is a disease of flares. Flares come and go away naturally. Drugs are very important in controlling lupus symptoms. However, if you can control the flares, you can control the disease to a great extent.

Lupus is also known as an autoimmune disease that affects the immune system of the person. In an autoimmune disease, a person's healthy cells are wrongly identified as foreign and are attacked by the immune system.

Every lupus patient may not have the same triggers. What are the likely triggers of lupus flares? Try to figure out which factors could be yours:

    • sunlight
    • stress
    • lack of rest
    • infections

Here are a few tips to control the triggers:

1. Stay away from the sun

Ultraviolet rays from sunlight can trigger lupus symptoms in most patients.

  • Avoid going out when sun rays are powerful usually from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., especially during summertime.
  • If at all you have to go out, cover your body as much as possible. Wear a hat to protect your head from the sun.
  • Wear a sunscreen that will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. It should have an SPF of 55 or higher.
  • A few types of sunscreen may irritate your skin or wash off easily. Try a few sunscreen products until you find the suitable one.

2. Rest adequately

Too little rest is one of the triggers of lupus flares. With lupus, you could be excessively tired most of the time.

  • Sometimes, tiredness is due to other underlying conditions such as anemia (low red blood cell count or hemoglobin levels in the blood). However, it can be treated accordingly.
  • If there is no specific underlying cause, try to balance your rest and activity levels.
  • Have a sound sleep at night for eight hours and frequent naps throughout the day, if it makes you feel better.
  • Go slow and avoid tiring activities.
  • Ask for help and do not try to do everything by yourself.
  • Cut down on your working hours.

One of the major symptoms of lupus is fatigue and can become debilitating, so it is important to plan the day to conserve your energy. However, too much rest also is harmful because your muscles can get weak. Try doing low-intensity exercises such as walking and swimming while balancing your fatigue or tiredness. Low-intensity exercises can build your stamina without putting undue pressure on your joints.

3. Push away stress

When you have lots to do or when you have more to do in a limited time, stress is invited.

  • Keep your daily schedule simple. 
  • Delegate tasks and look for help to take care of your kids.
  • Develop a positive attitude.
  • Aim to do a regular exercise. Use relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, yoga, and massage to calm your senses.

4. Stay away from infections

Be mindful of your vaccine timetable. If vaccinations for pneumonia and flu are given on time, they can provide efficient protection. Talk to your doctor about your vaccination calendar.

Due to a reduced immunity, people with lupus are more prone to develop infections. Avoid traveling to high-risk zones to prevent acquiring infections.

5. Consider pregnancy-related issues

Pay special attention to pregnancy-related stuff if you are a woman of childbearing age. If your lupus is controlled, conception and pregnancy may not be an issue. However, if your lupus is active, pregnancy is best avoided. Barrier methods of contraception such as condoms are a better option than oral contraceptive pills. Remember that pills may cause brittle bones.

Women with lupus can have babies. Discuss with your doctor to alter the course if needed. Pregnancy should only be avoided when the condition is severe.

6. Adopt a healthy lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle will reduce lupus flares. It will also reduce serious complications.

  • Consume a diet rich in fruits, nuts, low-fat dairy, vegetables, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains. A diet with low saturated fats and rich in omega-3 oil can be helpful.
  • Schedule a time to eat and be regular with that.
  • Avoid an excessive intake of salt, sugar, unhealthy fried foods, fat, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks such as coffee, soda drinks, and chocolates.
  • Quit smoking because it can worsen the symptoms of lupus. Smoking can increase your risk of getting a heart attack, respiratory infections, high blood pressure, and other serious health complications. Smoking is bound to worsen lupus. It increases your chances of getting heart diseases and brittle bones. Look for a professional help to quit smoking.

7. A balance between rest and exercise

  • Complementary therapies such as homeopathy, Ayurveda, and acupuncture do help lupus. Complementary therapies might not be fruitful to ease the symptoms of lupus. However, if you're dealing with pain, then acupuncture can be helpful. It relieves you from pain in a short time, but if your treatment is continued, then the result could be long-lasting. Discuss with your doctor before starting any alternative therapies.
  • Build a support system. Alone, you may not want to regularly exercise. Grouping up with like-minded people will motivate you to stick with your exercise routine. Support groups will also help you learn coping strategies from other members. Lupus is a difficult disease to live with. Meeting others with the disease will help you cope with the challenges.
  • Learning about the causes and how to manage the symptoms of lupus will help you have a better control over your condition and your life.

Other general guidelines for an effective lupus management:

  • Keep updating yourself about lupus. It will help you deal with your condition better.
  • Remember to follow-up judiciously. Do not miss your doctor’s appointments. Regular check-ups can help you deal with other aspects of lupus care such as diet and other diseases that come along, including an instance of high blood pressure.
  • If you see any new symptoms developing, inform your doctor immediately. Early treatment prevents permanent damage to your organs.

It’s important to make your family and friends understand what lupus is, how it’s affecting your life, and how you can cope with it. Make them aware of your limitations and needs when your symptoms pop up time and again.