Living With Lupus
Joint pain and fatigue from lupus can interfere with the ability to work. In the U.S., one-third of patients with such manifestations of lupus are unable to work. Patients may be required to reduce activities and can require assistance with child care. Nevertheless, a majority of patients with lupus can carry on normal daily activities.
Lupus and Diet
Although many claim to offer the perfect lupus diet, there is no special diet for alleviating lupus symptoms. The same diet that is typically recommended for healthy living—one with plenty of high-fiber fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins—should work for those with lupus as well.
That said, some researchers have found that alfalfa may induce lupus-like changes is immune cells, so that food may be best avoided. Also, one four-year study in Japan found that diets high in antioxidants like vitamins C and E may help alleviate inflammation for lupus sufferers. However additional studies are needed to verify the relationship between antioxidants and lupus relief.
Lupus and Smoking
Along with all of its other ill health effects, smoking worsens lupus symptoms as well. Smoking together with lupus can hasten lung infections, heart problems including heart attacks, and narrow blood vessels. The good news is that by stopping smoking, most of its impacts on lupus are reversible.
Lupus and Memory
Lupus sufferers often report a memory problem known as “lupus fog” that interferes with daily tasks. Those with lupus fog may struggle to remember names, dates, and generally find it difficult to think clearly. Memory techniques can be helpful, as well as staying organized with calendars, reminders, and appointment books.
Soothing Lupus Pain
Lupus pain can be aggravating and debilitating. Fortunately, there are some techniques you can use to help relieve it.
- Hot/cold packs for muscle pain
- RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to reduce swelling
- Relaxation, meditation, focused breathing, yoga, and other behavioral techniques can help control pain
- Pain medicines
Explaining Lupus to Others
Many people are unfamiliar with lupus, and the wide range of lupus symptoms can make it difficult to explain. You might explain that lupus is not contagious, it is not cancerous, and although it is an autoimmune disease with an overactive immune system, it is not an immune deficiency such as HIV/AIDS.
You may explain that lupus is somewhat of a misguided immune system that causes one’s own immune system to attack its otherwise healthy body parts. Lupus is chronic, meaning it lasts throughout life. It may help to explain that lupus is unpredictable and takes on many symptoms.