Coping With Lupus

Selena Gomez recently announced that she was diagnosed with Lupus and even had to undergo chemotherapy. Lupus is a chronic disease that may interfere with day to day activities if not actively managed.  However, following an action plan can really improve quality of life.

What is lupus?
Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body).  In lupus, our immune system is unable to differentiate between disease-causing cells and healthy cells and thus begins to attack and destroy healthy tissue.  The destruction of healthy tissue causes inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body, primarily in your skin and joints.

Ways to manage lupus
A person with lupus can undergo flares, periods when the symptoms may worsen, and remissions, periods of improvement. Due to these volatile changes, healthy lifestyle choices are an important part of living with lupus. What could you do?

Reduce Stress
Stress greatly increases the chances of having a lupus flare and can increase lupus pain when symptoms are active. Asking for help and prioritizing tasks when you have lupus symptoms is one way to reduce stress.  By prioritizing important tasks you feel more in control and less anxious. Taking time for yourself and finding activities that help you relax can also reduce stress.

Exercise
Obesity has been linked to increased inflammation, therefore regular exercise can help you keep a healthy weight, which is good for joint health and reducing joint pain.  A regular program of low-impact exercises, such as swimming or walking is recommended.
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Healthy Diet
There’s a strong link between lupus and heart disease, so a heart-healthy diet is essential.  A healthy diet consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins such as fish and poultry.

Plenty of sleep
Extreme fatigue affects as many as 80% of people with the condition. A person with lupus should be sleeping at least 7 hours.