Lupus is a chronic disease that causes inflammation in the joints, kidneys, skin, heart, lungs, and blood cells. Lupus is an autoimmune disease—meaning it’s caused by your immune system attacking your own healthy cells, tissues, and organs. The precise cause of lupus is unknown, though genetics are thought to play a factor. There is not yet a cure for lupus. However, a variety of treatment options exist. When used effectively, these treatments generally allow a lupus sufferer to live a life similar in length and quality to that of a non-sufferer.
Method 1 of 3: Treating Symptoms at Home
Take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen sodium and ibuprofen can help reduce the pain and inflammation from mild lupus symptoms. As an added benefit, these drugs can also alleviate other symptoms of lupus, such as fever and arthritic pains.
- Though these drugs are a cheap and convenient temporary solution to lupus flareups, they shouldn’t be used as a permanent “fix.” Long-term and/or high-dosage NSAID use can cause stomach and kidney damage.
- Consult your doctor before starting even this relatively mild treatment option, as some NSAIDs (especially ibuprofen) have been linked to life-threatening infections like meningitis in people with lupus.
2Wear sunscreen. The sun’s UV rays can trigger lupus flareups. Lupus can also cause increased light sensitivity. Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight and always cover up or apply a high-SPF sunscreen when you can’t avoid sun exposure.
3Protect yourself from other infections. Since lupus affects your immune system, you should shield yourself against infections. Keep up with annual flu and pneumonia vaccinations, and take other precautions such as not sharing glasses/utensils and washing your hands often with warm, soapy water.
Get plenty of rest. Fatigue is a common symptom of lupus, making an adequate amount of sleep essential for optimum health. Get a full eight hours of sleep each night. If you suffer from insomnia, try to create ideal sleeping conditions by sleeping in a cool, dark, quiet environment. You should also try to engage in a relaxing activity before bed that doesn’t involve a TV or computer screen.
Exercise regularly. Physical exercise helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (which is a serious concern for lupus patients), and it also combats depression. Additionally, exercise has proven effective at helping those with lupus recover from a flareup.
- The American Heart Association suggests thirty minutes of moderate cardio five days a week, but don’t push yourself too hard. This can be anything that gets your heart rate up—from brisk walking to playing sports.
Eat a nutritious diet. A healthy diet will boost your immune system, as well as helping to limit kidney and gastrointestinal complications related to lupus.Choose options rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and lean meat protein.
- Avoid foods that appear to aggravate any gastrointestinal symptoms.
- You can find more information on the staples of a healthy diet at How to Eat Healthy.
Build a support network. Lupus patients often suffer from chronic pain, which can sometimes be severe or even debilitating. Combined with the fact that lupus patients usually need to avoid sunlight, this can lead to isolation and depression for those with the disease. In addition to living a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to rely on your friends, family, and loved ones for support as you learn to live with lupus. The emotional benefits of a support circle can’t be overstated.
- Look into lupus support groups in your area as well. You may find sharing with those with firsthand knowledge of your condition beneficial.
Method 2 of 3: Seeking Professional Help for Symptoms
See your physician often. Your doctor will have a variety of medication options available to help alleviate pain and other symptoms. Your doctor will also have general information on how to minimize flareups. Keep regular appointments to help find the best medication (or combination of medications) for your specific symptoms. You should also see your doctor whenever you have a flare. Common symptoms involved with a lupus flareup include:
- Severe fatigue and fever
- Pain, swelling, or stiffness in your joints
- Chest pain
- Confusion or memory loss
- Shortness of breath
Use corticosteroid medications. Corticosteroids (prednisone, cortisone, etc.) have anti-inflammatory properties. Corticosteroids fight the painful inflammation that can accompany lupus’s autoimmune response. Your doctor will want to monitor your use of corticosteroids because long-term use can lead to side effects such as:
- Weight gain
- Susceptibility to bruising
- Increased potential for infection
- High blood pressure
- Osteoporosis (bone thinning)
Ask about antimalarial drugs. Your doctor may prescribe antimalarial drugs—hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and chloroquine—in conjunction with corticosteroids or other medications. They most often treat lupus symptoms such as skin rashes, mouth ulcers, and joint pain. These options can require long-term use to measure results, but side effects are typically mild. They include:
- Upset stomach and blurred vision (reduced by taking with food)
- Retinal damage (in very rare cases)
Use immunosuppressive medications. Your doctor may prescribe immunosuppressive medicines—azathioprine (Imuran), leflunomide (Arava), and methotrexate (Trexall)—for serious cases. However, your doctor will monitor the use of these drugs carefully since they reduce your body’s ability to fight off other infections. Side effects include:
- Increased risk of infection
- Damage to your liver
- Decreased fertility
- Higher risk of cancer
- A newer medication in this class—belimumab (Benlysta)—also helps relieve lupus symptoms in some cases. Benefits of the drug include less severe side effects, often limited to nausea, diarrhea, and fever.
Take intravenous immunoglobulin (IVGs). Immunoglobulin is a term for a body’s natural antibodies, which, under normal conditions, help fight disease and infection. In IVG therapy, antibodies are isolated from another person’s donated blood, then injected into your body intravenously (through a vein). IVG can boost a person’s immune function without increasing the autoimmune response that causes lupus symptoms
- Due to an expensive, time-consuming delivery process, your doctor will only prescribe this option in severe cases.
Take anticoagulants to prevent blood clotting. People with lupus are more likely to suffer from blood clots. If a blood clot occurs in a deep vein, in the heart, or in the brain, it can cause potentially life-threatening conditions such as deep-vein thrombosis, heart attack, or stroke. Your doctor may prescribe anticoagulants to thin your blood if he or she decides that you are at a greater risk for blood clots.
- The most serious side effects of blood thinners are increased susceptibility to bleeding and gangrene of the skin.
7Consider more powerful painkillers. Sometimes, in severe cases of lupus, the pain can become too great for anti-inflammatory treatments to manage. In these cases, your doctor can prescribe powerful painkillers, usually opiates like oxycodone.
Avoid certain types of medication. Some common medications can aggravate lupus symptoms. If you take one of these medications, work with your doctor to see if you can replace them with other medications or otherwise minimize their effects with regard to lupus. Some drugs that have negative interactions with lupus are:
- Sulfa-containing antibiotics (sulfonamides)
- Supplements that contain alfalfa
Method 3 of 3: Taking Vitamin and Herbal Supplements
Take fish oil supplements. Initial studies have shown promise with an increase of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil supplements. Additionally, omega-3 fats are the “good” fats that can have a positive effect on your cholesterol and heart health.
- Common side effects include burping, nausea, and a lasting fish taste in your mouth.
2Take dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplements. DHEA does not affect lupus directly, but studies have shown that it reduces the dosage of prescribed corticosteroids necessary to help stabilize symptoms.
3Take vitamin D3. Those deficient in levels of vitamin D3 have shown to have more symptoms and flareups. Taking a low daily dosage can help stabilize vitamin D levels and reduce flareups.
5Try astragalus. Astragalus seems to reduce the activity of an overactive immune system, but more study is necessary. Do not take this herb without first discussing it with your physician, especially if you take lithium or a medication to suppress your immune system.
Via : WikiHow