Lupus is an autoimmune disorder. Although there's no cure, treatments are available that can minimise damage and manage your symptoms.
Symptoms vary from person to person and may develop suddenly or very gradually. Some people might experience a mild episode - called a flare - when signs of lupus temporarily worsen but then improve, or possibly even disappear for a time.
The most common signs are:
Headaches, memory loss, and confusion
Chest discomfort, pain, shortness of breath
Stiffness and swelling of joints
Skin lesions that get worse with sun exposure
Toes and fingers that turn white or blue when cold or under stress
A butterfly-like rash which spreads over the nose and cheeks; rashes elsewhere.
Some people are born with a genetic tendency towards developing lupus. The disease can be triggered by lifestyle and environmental situations, including the stress of giving birth, divorce, illness, surgery, traumatic injury, certain drugs, or sunlight. Though gene analysis continues to advance tremendously, the specific causes of many autoimmune disorders persist in challenging the medical profession.
Prompt, professional care significantly improves your ability to manage lupus. Once diagnosed, your doctor will advise you of the treatments available, and explain the relative benefits and risks involved. A plan tailored to your symptoms will be devised; because those symptoms might fluctuate, your doctor will possibly recommend changing your medication or varying the dosage occasionally.
If you have lupus, there are simple things you can do to help prevent flare-ups:
Make regular visits to your doctor - Ask if you need vitamin D and calcium supplements.
Be sun smart - Ultraviolet light can set off a lupus flare very quickly, so wear protective clothing when outside and use a high-protection factor sunscreen of at least SPF55.
Exercise regularly - Exercise will greatly help with your fitness, strength, and overall wellbeing.
Don’t smoke - Your risk of cardiovascular disease increases with lupus. Smoking potentially worsens its effects on lungs, heart, and blood vessels.
Ensure you are on a healthy diet - Fruit, vegetables, and whole-grain foods are essentials.
This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.