Lupus is an autoimmune inflammatory disease, wherein, your immune system attacks its own healthy cells, thereby causing damage to some or many parts of the body. Although, anyone can get lupus, women are three times more vulnerable to this disease. Lupus is of several types, but, Systemic lupus is the most common type. Being an autoimmune condition, the specific cause of Lupus is not known.
Here are 9 important things that you need to know about Lupus:
- Lupus can affect one or more of these organs – the joints, blood cells, brain, heart, lungs, skin, and kidneys. The condition requires a medical diagnosis, with lab tests and imaging. Lupus can be treated and managed, but cannot be completely cured.
- Symptoms of Lupus include joint pain, fatigue, fever and rashes that can periodically flare up and then improve. Other associated symptoms may include hair loss, anxiety, anaemia, dry mouth, arthritis, headache, mental confusion, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, water retention etc.
- Although Lupus cannot be cured, with certain medicines and lifestyle modification, it can be controlled. If you are suffering from Lupus, you may have to visit your primary care doctor, apart from Rheumatologist and other specialists, depending on how lupus has affected your body. For example, if lupus troubles your joints, you would have to visit your Rheumatologist, while if it damages your blood vessels or heart, you would have to see a cardiologist, apart from visiting your primary care doctor.
- Your primary care doctor, together with other health care providers should treat other problems as an when they crop up. Your doctor will arrive at a treatment plan that suits your needs. In case you develop any new symptom, you should inform your doctor right away, so that, the treatment plan can be modified accordingly.
- Treatments may include drugs to reduce flares, to prevent damage to joints, for hormonal balance and to help the immune system. Apart from these, you may also have to take medicines for other problems related to lupus such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and infection.Although alternative treatments can be tried, no research has confirmed that alternative medicine can cure lupus. But, some alternative approaches, such as yoga and meditation, will help you in better managing the condition and relieving the stress associated with the illness.
- If you have lupus, it is important that you take an active role in your treatment, by finding out ways that work for you in coping with stress, and in spotting the warning signs of a flare-up, and discussing the same with your doctor. Therefore it is important that you focus on your diet, nutrition, and lifestyle, which will go a long way in managing the condition.
- It is important to realize that there are no foods that cause lupus or cure it. But, a good nutrition will go a long way in managing the disease. So aim for a well-balanced diet which includes plenty of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, apart from moderate amount of meat, poultry, and fish. Foods that contain omega 3 fatty acids can fight inflammation. Therefore, including foods such as fish such as salmon and sardine, ground flax seed, nuts, olive oil and canola oil, can be of help.
Avoid saturated fats that increase cholesterol levels like fried foods, baked goods, creamed soups, red meat, animal fat and dairy foods.Diet can also help in combating the side-effects of drugs. For instance, a low-sodium diet can reduce fluid retention and blood pressure that usually gets elevated with use of corticosteroids.
- Exercise does play a vital role in managing lupus too, as is the case with other health conditions. If you are suffering from lupus, exercising may seem painful, particularly, when you are tired and have joint ache and need to rest. But, plenty of research has shown that exercise can help lupus patients build stronger bones, muscles, control fatigue and prevent weight gain.
Flexibility exercises such as yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates can improve balance and posture, while aerobic exercises such as dancing, walking, bicycling, can improve heart and lung functioning. Moreover, lupus patients are often prone to depression. Exercising on regular basis has been associated with lower levels of depression, because at least 20 minutes of any physical activity, a day can boost their mental health.
- Finally, don’t forget to cover up when you go out in the sun, quit smoking, and improve your stress management skills. Also, make sure that you get plenty of rest, as lupus patients require at least 12 hours of sleep a night.