MANAGING LUPUSLiving well with a chronic diseaseWhat is Lupus?
Systemic lupus is a disease that causes your body's immune system to attack its own cells and tissues. This can affect your joints and organs, such as the skin and kidneys. Lupus is most common in young adult women. To diagnose lupus, your doctor will ask about your health history and perform an examination. Chest x-rays and blood and urine tests may also be needed.Symptoms
Lupus can appear in many parts of the body. Because of this, it can affect people in different ways. Some of the most common symptoms of lupus include:
Swollen or painful joints (arthritis)
Sores in the mouth or nose
More severe symptoms, such as chest pain, oedema (leg and ankle swelling) and stroke
You aren't likely to have all of these symptoms. And the symptoms you do have may go away for some time (remission). If lupus flares up again, your symptoms may return the same as before.Adjusting Your Lifestyle
Lupus in an ongoing problem. It can be serious, but is doesn't have to prevent you from doing the things you enjoy. You can help control lupus by living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Be sure to see your doctor for regular checkups and lab work. At some point, your doctor may send you to a rheumatologist (a doctor who specialises in lupus, arthritis and other related diseases).Take Care of Yourself
Try the tips below to help maintain your health:
Find the right balance of rest and activity.
Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits and grains.
Maintain your proper weight.
Exercise a few times a week, at least. Try walking, swimming or biking.
Learn ways to reduce or manage stress.
Stay out of the sun as much as you can.Find Support
Lupus can put special demands on your life. Family and friends can be a good source of help and moral support. You may also want to join a support group for lupus patients. By talking with other people who have lupus, you may learn new ways to cope. You may also feel less alone.Other Things You Can Do
No one knows what causes lupus, but certain things can trigger symptoms or make them worse. You may feel better more often by following these tips:
When you're outside, wear protective clothing. Also use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
Try to avoid getting colds and flu. Ask your doctor about flu shots and vaccines.
If you get pregnant, tell your doctor right away. You will need to be monitored closely throughout your pregnancy.Medications May Help
Medications can't cure lupus, but they can relieve symptoms. Some medications help prevent organ damage or suppress the disease (called remission). Your doctor will prescribe one or more medications to help you feel better. Be sure to take them as directed.Tips for Taking Medications
Your doctor can adjust the type or dose of your medications as needed. For the best results, follow these tips:
Keep a list of all your medications. Share the list with each doctor you see.
Don't skip a dose or stop taking a medication without talking with your doctor.
Find out if your medications should be taken with food.
Tell your doctor if you have any side effects, such as dizziness or stomach problems.
Be sure to have all the lab tests that your doctor orders.Taking Control
Many people with lupus lead active and full lives. They follow a healthy lifestyle and take their medications as directed. They also see their doctors as scheduled. By playing an active role in your care, you can help control lupus. You may even enjoy long periods without any signs of the disease.