Living with lupus can be a tedious ordeal. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can be a scary diagnosis as it can wreak havoc on all parts of your body, such as the skin, heart, joints, and kidneys. There are estimated to be over 1.5 million people in the U.S. who suffer from this chronic illness. There is currently no cure for lupus, but there is still hope. Here are 21 ways to make it easier to overcome the challenge of living with lupus to help you live a full and happy life.
1. Do research if you’re living with lupus and teach others
Learning about your disease can take away a lot of the mystery and fear that lies behind it. Sharing that information with close family and friends will give guidance and understanding to those you care about.
2. Eat a healthy diet
While there is no special diet for lupus, a healthy diet is best for the body to be in peak condition to fight off any illness. Try to make sure you are eating a balanced diet and talk to your doctor about any changes you feel could help.
Exercise is always an important staple for a healthy body and mind. Walking a couple of blocks, swimming a few laps, or doing some yoga can be just what you need to get your blood pumping and to reduce joint pain.
4. But don’t overdo the exercise
While light aerobic exercise will help a lot, try to avoid high-intensity workouts. Specifically, don’t do them when you have joint pain or you could exacerbate an already painful experience.
5. Ice, ice, baby
Cold therapy can be a good choice when joint pain first rears its ugly head. Ice slows the pain response to the brain and reduces swelling by reducing the blood flow to an area.
6. Hot! Hot! Hot!
A helpful tip to kick joint pain in the long term is to try a warm bath, shower, or a heating pad. This will loosen up your tight muscles and reduce the soreness by increasing blood flow and circulation. Heat also has a pleasant reassuring quality that can help you relax a little mentally.
7. Avoid alcohol
Some alcohol use won’t generally be bad for people with lupus, as long as their doctor has approved it. Alcohol can have some other side effects, like reducing medication effectiveness or create new medical issues. Those with depression should also be extra cautious when imbibing, as alcohol is a natural depressant and can make depressive thoughts worse.
8. Track your flare-ups
Knowing early warning signs or what causes flare-ups can greatly increase the chances of mitigating or even preventing them.
9. Minimize stress
Find ways to avoid stress as stressing the body only makes living with lupus worse. Strategize with a doctor or find ways for friends and family to really help out.
10. Make time to destress
It might be difficult to pursue some hobbies because of lupus, but finding time to destress is of vital importance. Find something you enjoy and take time to do it, whether it be listening to music, reading, or cooking.
11. Practice good sleeping habits
Sleep deprivation has also been linked to increase pain sensitivity. If you’re living with lupus, you know it can wipe you out like nobody’s business. Fatigue is definitely something to be aware of, so making sure you get a healthy amount of rest each day is a smart move.
12. Watch out for the sun
Sensitivity to ultra-violet light is very common in those who suffer from lupus. It can trigger flare-ups, which can really ruin your day. Make sure if you go out in the sun that you use at least SPF 30 sunscreen, which provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
13. Artificial light can be a problem
Indoor fluorescent light gives off UV rays just like the sun. You might want to try covering your lights with light shields.
14. Just don’t smoke
Smoking has been linked to all kinds of negative health effects, like cancer and heart disease. But for those living with lupus it increases inflammation, can cause flare-ups, and worsens other symptoms.
15. Prevent infections
Patients with lupus are more susceptible to infections so try to avoid those who are already sick and contagious. Always make sure to wash your hands and ask your doctor about keeping up on vaccines.
16. Beware of lupus fog
This mental impairment can confuse you, mess with your memory, and be very frustrating. Make sure to keep a journal of your activities and write down important information for safe-keeping to help counteract these issues.
17. Get a massage
Massages increase energy levels, reduce stress, and can help with muscle soreness. Try a local licensed massage therapist and see if it works for you.
18. Know your limits
Don’t push yourself too hard. If you are tired or in pain, know when you have to cut back hours at work or take time away from others to rest and recuperate.
19. Ask for help
It might be hard to admit at first, but everyone needs help sometimes. Those with chronic pain conditions are already highly-susceptible to anxiety and depression, so it is always good to have an emotional support structure to make sure you are well taken care of.
20. Record new symptoms
Keep a list of your symptoms and questions you want to ask your doctor. It is always a smart idea to inform your doctor immediately of any new symptoms that arise.
21. Acknowledge yourself
You are not your disease. Just remember that you have lots to offer the world and you have friends and family that want to see you happy. Focus on what makes life great rather than the battle you have with lupus.
Living with lupus is a challenge that can be overcome with resilience and dedication. Do you have any tips or tricks you use to manage your condition?