Lupus can be a challenging condition to live with, but just because there is no cure doesn’t mean living with lupus has to be impossible. Everyone’s experience with the disease is different, and learning how to manage it can take time and practice. So to help make things easier, this guide will provide you with information about the disease and how to manage it. It will cover everything from diagnosis to treatment options and lifestyle changes that can help make living with lupus easier. Hopefully, with the proper knowledge and support, you can find a way to live your life with lupus.
What Is Lupus?
Lupus occurs when the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue, confusing it with antigens from an invading pathogen. This results in inflammation and severe discomfort throughout the body. Often the exact cause of lupus remains unknown, but it has been linked to exposure to sunlight as well as hormones, viruses, heredity, or environmental factors.
With roughly five million people worldwide affected by this strange but complex condition, it is even more critical for people to remain aware of diagnosis and treatment options if they find themselves living with lupus.
How Lupus Is Diagnosed
Lupus is challenging to diagnose because it can present so differently in many individuals. Medical history and physical exams are used to observe any signs of the condition, and blood tests are conducted to detect levels of antibodies indicating the presence of lupus. The combination of these tests, as well as results from X-rays, MRI scans, urine tests, and biopsies, help doctors develop an accurate diagnosis.
However, due to the complexity associated with lupus, some patients find themselves going through several rounds of testing before arriving at a specific diagnosis. In any case, it is essential to determine proper diagnosis in order to create the best treatment plan for each individual suffering from the disease.
Treatment Options For Lupus
As previously mentioned, there is no cure for lupus, but there are treatment options available to help treat the symptoms. The following are some of the standard treatment methods used to manage the condition:
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
When it comes to treating lupus, Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) have become a widely-used tool. These medications help to relieve the painful and often debilitating joint inflammation that accompanies this autoimmune disorder. Not only do NSAIDs help reduce swelling and discomfort in joints, but they can also reduce the production of certain enzymes in the body, which can be responsible for further exacerbating lupus-related tissue damage.
Unfortunately, extended use of NSAIDs is not without risk, including an elevated risk of heart attack or stroke. As such, it is important for any patient considering treatment with an NSAID to ensure that their physician is fully informed about all related health considerations before beginning use.
Corticosteroids help to reduce inflammation throughout the body and suppress the overactive immune system, thus effectively managing lupus symptoms. Corticosteroids can be administered either by mouth or through injection, and the most commonly used is prednisone, a type of corticosteroid. Prednisone results in speedy symptom relief, quickly reducing joint pain and swelling and helping to conserve healthy muscle, bone, and organ tissues.
A course of corticosteroid treatment can drastically improve the quality of life for those with lupus. While side effects such as increased vulnerability to infection and weight gain can pose risks, they are almost always outweighed by the benefits of this kind of therapy.
Biologics are becoming increasingly popular in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus due to their ability to target specific molecules within the body’s immune system. In particular, biologics like belimumab and rituximab have shown impressive results in treating lupus symptoms such as joint inflammation and swelling and regulating the production of autoantibodies by B cells.
As biologics work differently than traditional medications, they can provide greater relief with fewer side effects for those living with lupus. While many initial treatments are used in an effort to control symptoms, continued use of biologic drugs may ultimately lead to long-term remission of this chronic condition.
Lifestyle Tips For Living With Lupus
Even with proper treatment in place, managing lupus can be difficult. Fortunately, there are a number of lifestyle tips and strategies available to help those suffering from this condition lead healthier, more comfortable lives.
Take Steps To Reduce Stress
Living with lupus can be a highly stressful experience that can take its toll on any individual’s mental and physical health. Staying physically active and engaging in uplifting activities are two of the surest ways to reduce stress when living with lupus. Regular exercise can do wonders for improving energy levels, mood, concentration, sleep habits, and overall quality of life — all helpful in managing the symptoms associated with this illness.
Additionally, finding enjoyable activities to help shift focus away from the everyday challenges of dealing with lupus can provide much-needed relief. Whether it’s doing puzzles, listening to music, or spending time outdoors, strategies like these help build emotional resilience and lessen stress in both the short and long term.
Prioritize Quality Sleep
Quality sleep is essential to managing the often debilitating effects of living with lupus. It may seem like an impossible task to get the required amount of quality rest while managing lupus symptoms, but there are ways to make this possible. Creating a regular sleep schedule can help regulate hormones and maintain essential body processes. Additionally, avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and large meals right before bedtime can foster better sleep quality.
Finally, mindfulness practices such as meditation before bed can help your body relax enough for deep sleep. Although it may take some effort and re-arrangement of daily activities, prioritizing quality sleep when living with lupus is essential for overall well-being.
Be Aware Of Your Triggers
When living with lupus, it is vital to be aware of your triggers. A trigger is anything that has the potential to cause physical and emotional difficulties, from stress and lack of sleep to extreme weather conditions and certain foods. By learning about your own triggers and understanding which ones you seem more sensitive to, you can take the necessary steps to alter your life accordingly.
For example, if stress is a trigger for you, then you may need to adapt your time management skills and schedule regular relaxation activities throughout the week. Every person with lupus will have their own unique set of triggers, but by developing an awareness of what they may be, you can learn how best to manage them and create a better quality of life.
Living With Lupus Doesn’t Have To Slow You Down!
Living with lupus can present many daily challenges, but with the right treatment plan and lifestyle adjustments, it is possible to experience relief from symptoms and improved quality of life. Just remember to stay in constant communication with your doctor; they can help you make informed decisions about your care and provide the right tools to help you navigate life with lupus. With effort, understanding, and a positive outlook, it is possible to manage this chronic condition and live a happy, healthy life!