Known as “the great imitator,” lupus can be confused with other medical conditions. Lupus is a disease where the immune system attacks healthy tissue. It is an inflammatory immune disease that is similar to rheumatoid disease. However, in addition to attacking tissue in the joints, lupus also affects the skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs.
Even though lupus is a chronic condition, we will tell you how to improve your quality of life while living with the “disease of a thousand faces.”
Lupus: Causes and Symptoms
What causes lupus is generally unknown. For some people, the disease seems to be hereditary. While lupus can affect anyone at any age, African-American women between the ages of 15-45 seem to have the greatest risk of developing the disease.
There are also environmental factors that may trigger lupus, including:
- Sunlight and UV radiation
- Air pollution
As stated previously, lupus symptoms mimic other diseases, so it is essential to recognize and track all your symptoms. Some of the common symptoms of lupus are:
- Butterfly rash across the nose and cheeks
- Muscle and joint pain
- Chest pain and shortness of breath
- Painless mouth ulcers
- Excessive narrowing of the capillaries in the fingers and toes, causing them to turn cold and pale or blue
- Memory loss
- Difficulty with concentration
How to Live Your Best Life With Lupus
There is no cure for lupus, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life. Here are five tips for living a better life with lupus:
1. Medications: There are some medications on the market that can help treat the symptoms of lupus. There are over-the-counter NSAIDs such as ibuprofen to treat pain and swelling, antimalarial drugs that may prevent flare-ups, corticosteroids that treat inflammation, immunosuppressants to suppress the immune system, and biologics that reduce the symptoms of lupus.
2. Nutrition: Increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B and D, along with decreasing your consumption of saturated fats and sodium, can reduce the severity of symptoms.
3. Exercise: Low impact exercise helps to strengthen bones and muscles while protecting the joints and avoiding inflammation. Walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi, and biking are excellent choices for improving your health.
4. Lifestyle Changes: Eliminating or reducing smoking and alcohol intake can improve the health of your liver and cardiovascular system, lessening the impact of lupus symptoms. In addition, alcohol may interfere with some medications you are using to treat lupus. Other lifestyle changes to make include finding ways to reduce stress, get more sleep, and make sure you get your flu shot and other vaccinations.
5. Find a Support Group: Living with lupus can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are several support groups that you can join, whether they are in-person or online. Talking with other people is a great source of information on living a better quality of life while living with lupus.
For More Information
If you are experiencing any symptoms of lupus, it is essential to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment lead to the best outcomes. Contact Advanced Rheumatology of Houston to schedule an appointment. Our healthcare professionals will discuss your medical history, conduct a physical exam, and arrange for lab testing. We will then work with you on a plan of treatment so you can live your best life while living with lupus.