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If you’re one of the 1.5 million Americans diagnosed with lupus, you know that this chronic autoimmune disease can affect any part of the body (skin, joints and/or organs inside the body). It can be difficult to find relief from common symptoms, like extreme fatigue, headaches, low fevers, sensitivity to light, chest pain when breathing deeply, and pain/swelling in the joints, hands, feet, or around the eyes. So, we’re taking a look at options to help you—after all, we need to look out for each other because lupus is two to three times more prevalent among people of color.
Listen to Your Body
We know, this is something we all should do, but it is imperative if you have lupus. If you feel fatigued, rest—yes, this means you may have to be a little more flexible with your schedule and say no to certain obligations at times. You don’t want to ignore your body’s messages, you could just end up feeling worse longer—and no one wants that. Also try to move your body every day. No, you don’t have to train hard, even walking and yoga can make a big difference to help prevent muscle weakness.
Keep a journal, either handwritten or on your phone, to track your flares. Make notes about what is happening in your life at the time—were you stressed, sick, or eating foods like alfalfa, tomatoes, potatoes, or corn? Making notes creates your own personal data, so when you look back, you’ll likely see patterns—and from those patterns identify triggers you can try to avoid.
Practice Sun Care
For some ladies with lupus, the sun can trigger flares. For others, you may be more tolerant, but everyone should always practice safe sun care. Use maximum strength sunblock that protects against UVA and UVB rays—you may find your favorite makeup has sunscreen too. And be sure to pack a fabulous cover-up when you are at the beach or poolside.
Make Healthy Choices
Eat the rainbow to set yourself up with a healthy diet. Over time, you may notice that certain foods cause your symptoms to return or worsen. Pay attention to the way you feel when you eat, and if you do see an increase in symptoms when eating a particular food, try eliminating that from your diet—you may be surprised at the results.
Explore Medical Alternatives
Some of these you may be familiar with, like acupuncture, massage, meditation, chiropractic treatments, herbs, and supplements. And some you may not know a lot about, like biofeedback. This is a technique you can learn to control some body functions. For example, breathing deeply can help you calm yourself down and even slow your heart rate. This can help people deal with physical and mental issues such as pain, headache, anxiety, and high blood pressure.
Understand Medicinal Options
Lupus can cause a lot of different health problems, there are many kinds of medicines used to treat it. From Antimalarials that help reduce autoantibodies and immunosuppressives to support your immune system to steroids and NSAIDS to help combat pain and inflammation, you can create your own plan with the help of your doctor.
Your Treatment, Your Way
The most important component in your treatment is you. To ensure that you have access to the most effective ways to treat your lupus, you must advocate for yourself. Do your research so when you meet with your doctor you can work together to find the right combination of medicines for you. And if you think one of these alternatives could benefit you, why not try it? You may not always feel in control of your lupus, but you are in control of your care.