Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue and organs. It’s characterized by widespread inflammation which can appear in different areas of the body, including the skin, joints, blood cells, kidneys, brain, heart, and lungs. Oftentimes, lupus is challenging to diagnose, as its symptoms can vary widely and mimic other conditions. Receiving a diagnosis can bring relief in some ways, as it puts a name to an array of frustrating symptoms. Yet, it also means you’ll have to adapt to living with a chronic illness. Here are some tips for learning to live with Lupus.
Learn About Lupus
Everyone experiences lupus differently, which can make learning about lupus challenging. With that being said, there are helpful resources such as The Lupus Foundation of America to help you find out more about the condition.
You may have been experiencing an array of strange and uncomfortable symptoms that come and go. During lupus flares, symptoms such as rash, swollen joints, sores or ulcers, and fever can intensify. You’ll want to start tracking conditions leading up to flares to see if they occur in a pattern and an identifiable trigger brings them on. For instance, flares often arise after emotional or physical stress, as well as exhaustion, injury, and viral illnesses.
Find the Right Doctor
Since lupus is fairly rare, most general practitioners don’t see patients with the condition very often. To ensure you have access to the right treatment, you’ll want to see a specialist. Most people with lupus visit a rheumatologist, who specializes in systemic autoimmune diseases.
Once you’ve found a reputable doctor, you’ll want to discuss wellness strategies and treatment options. Your treatment approach may evolve, so know that you don’t have to explore all options right away. You might also consider adopting lifestyle strategies to help control symptoms, such as beginning a meditation practice to limit emotional stress.
Online support groups are rich with resources and firsthand accounts. Within these groups, you might be able to connect with someone whose symptoms are similar to yours and discuss treatment options that worked for them. You can also discuss the emotional and mental challenges that come with living with a chronic illness and turn to people who are ready to lend an ear. Lupus Warriors on Facebook, LupusConnect, and Lupus Research Alliance are a few options to consider.
Maintain Ongoing Care
You’ll want to visit your rheumatologist regularly, even if you aren’t having frequent flare-ups. With blood work and regular conversations, the doctor may be able to help you pinpoint which treatments and lifestyle modifications are working effectively to control flares. They might also help you explore complementary and alternative treatments to manage symptoms.
Many have begun to seek regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, as an alternative option for managing symptoms. Stem cells are considered the building blocks of life since they have the ability to self-renew and differentiate into specialized cell types. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can be sourced from autologous or allogeneic tissues and act as immunomodulators that suppress the activity of T regulatory cells.
Since lupus impacts your immune system, you’ll also want to take care to minimize your risk for other illnesses. This includes staying up-to-date with vaccines and exams. If you live with lupus it will require some adjustments, most patients can live fulfilling, happy lives after their diagnosis. By learning more and finding the right care providers, you can begin taking control of your lupus and your overall health. Contact a Care Coordinator today for a free assessment!