It is very likely that learning to cope with the persistent exhaustion and chronic pain associated with lupus takes its toll on the mind and body, sometimes contributing to depression and hopelessness. So, we’ve put together some helpful lupus-coping ideas.
The Lupus Foundation of America notes that an estimated 1.5 million people have a form of lupus in the United States, and each year there are about 16,000 new cases.
Four different forms of lupus exist: neonatal, cutaneous, drug-induced, and systemic, accounting for 70% of all cases of lupus.
In half of all systemic lupus cases, a major tissue or organ in the body , including the heart, brain, kidneys, and lungs, will be affected.
Around 10-15 percent of individuals with lupus may die due to complications of lupus prematurely. However, due to the advances in diagnosis and disease treatment that are available, most individuals should expect to live a “normal lifespan.”
Coping with lupus can be challenging due to the number of areas of the body that are affected by the disease. Pain, lifestyle changes, and the emotional issues that arise from the disease are often cited by people with lupus as the most challenging aspects of living with lupus.
Here are the smart steps from Nccmed to help boost the quality of life when living with lupus.
Get regular exercise
When you have lupus, there are three key reasons why you should initiate an exercise regimen and stick with it.
- Exercise keeps you moving and delays, or even prevents, disability and losing your independence.
- Exercise reduces fatigue.
- Exercise boosts your mood by releasing chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins interact with brain receptors that reduce sensitivity to pain and also lower rates of depression.
Before beginning an exercise plan, always speak to a healthcare professional; they can assess your strength, balance , and flexibility and tailor an exercise program to meet your needs.
Your upper and lower muscles as well as your core muscles should work in a well-balanced exercise program and include between four and eight different exercises that can be rotated through.
You should also aim to do some sort of physical activity every day, even if you are just doing light exercise such as stretching. When in pain, it can often be a challenge to remain motivated, but the more you move, the better you will feel. With the following tips, keep inspired.
• Find inspiration. Think about what drives you to exercise, such as maintaining your freedom, and when you feel unmotivated, concentrate on that feeling.
• Set achievable goals. Set yourself small, reachable goals. The more you achieve your objectives, the harder you may want to drive yourself.
• Keep a progress journal. Marking your progress will motivate you to keep on track, whether you are tracking your progress on an app, a calendar, or a piece of paper.
For individuals with lupus, low-impact physical activity is helpful. To reduce muscle stiffness, improve muscular strength, relieve stress , promote sleep, and prevent osteoporosis, try walking , cycling, and swimming. Your heart and cardiovascular system will also be protected by exercise.
Maintain a healthful diet
It is necessary to try to maintain a well-balanced and varied diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables , and whole grains, and a reasonable amount of meat, poultry , and fish, even though there is no particular diet for lupus.
Eat foods rich in omega-3
Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with improved quality of sleep and a decline in depressive symptoms in people with lupus. Omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and are present in fatty fish, nuts , and seeds.
However, Omega-6 is suspected of functioning as a pro-inflammatory and could lead to chronic diseases.
Take a vitamin D supplement
In bone health and immune system health, vitamin D plays an important role. Vitamin D can be obtained by exposure to ultraviolet ( UV ) rays, by consuming vitamin D-rich foods, or by supplementation.
One research found that a higher risk of end-stage renal disease is associated with low levels of vitamin D in lupus.
Although people with lupus need to reduce their exposure to sunlight, vitamin D supplementation is a safe and efficient way to ensure that you get the recommended dose.
People with lupus are advised to avoid alfalfa. Lupus flares that may result in weakness, muscle pain, changes in the function of the immune system, and kidney complications have been related to Alfalfa tablets.
Alfalfa sprouts contain an amino acid known as L-canavanine, which activates the immune system and increases inflammation in those with lupus.
While it is not an issue in itself for people with lupus to drink a small amount of alcohol, it can affect the efficacy of some drugs.
For example , non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are associated with ulcers and bleeding, such as aspirin , ibuprofen, celecoxib, and naproxen. With alcohol use, the risk of developing ulcers or experiencing internal bleeding dramatically increases.
Drinking alcohol also limits the efficacy of anticoagulants such as warfarin and a chemotherapy medication called methotrexate.
Reduce fat and salt intake
To decrease inflammation, corticosteroids may be administered. Corticosteroids mimic hormones produced by the adrenal glands, specifically cortisol, which helps to control the immune system and rapidly decreases inflammation-related pain , tenderness, swelling, and warmth.
Lifting blood pressure , cholesterol, and lipid levels are side effects of corticosteroid usage. It may also lead to these conditions to eat too much fat and salt, so it is recommended that you restrict them in your diet.
Watch your weight
Obesity happens often with lupus. Latest research has shown that obesity is related to depressive symptoms and “increased activity of the disease in women with lupus.”
To avoid lupus depression, consider maintaining a stable body mass index ( BMI) with a healthy , balanced diet and daily physical activity.
Moreover, alcohol use can lead to new health issues or worsen existing problems.
Limit sun exposure
Among those with lupus, photosensitivity is prevalent, and excessive sun exposure can cause lupus flares. In those with cutaneous and systemic lupus, exposure to UV rays may cause rashes, tiredness, joint pain , fever, and other symptoms.
Protect yourself from lupus flare-ups caused by sun exposure by:
- using a sunscreen with a broad spectrum SPF
- liberally appling a sunblock of at least SPF 30 if you are outside for extended periods, and making sure it blocks both UVA and UVB rays
- protecting your lips with a wax-based lip balm that is at least SPF 15
- wearing sun protective clothing
- wearing a wide-brimmed hat and wrap-around sunglasses
- avoiding direct sunlight between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- limiting time spent at higher altitudes or around snow and water
- using UV-protective film to cover house and car windows
It can make a lot of difference in avoiding flare-ups by making a few changes to limit your exposure to sunlight.
Also, bear in mind that indoor lighting can also give off UV rays when analyzing your work or home environment.
Try to stop being depressed and nervous, although it might be easier said than done. There is a considerable impact of stress on the immune system. Many individuals with lupus find that their symptoms intensify in periods of high stress and can lead to a flare.
Often stressful circumstances are inevitable, but learning how to destress will help you cope more effectively with periods of tension.
Soothe discomfort with meditation on mindfulness. Meditation on Mindfulness helps you to concentrate your focus on the moment and to embrace the world as it is. According to study, mindfulness meditation can not only help build a sense of peace, but it can also decrease the severity of pain.
Breathe deeply. Breathe in through the nose and feel the beginning of your breath in your abdomen and work upward, to the top of your head. Reverse this process when you exhale through your mouth. For 5 minutes, repeat.
Communicate. Sharing your thoughts with others and how you feel will lighten the burden and make you feel less depressed.
Laugh. It will help to release endorphins and boost your mood by having something to smile about, whether it be watching your tv show or talking to a friend who makes you laugh.
Move. You don’t have to sprint to destress; light exercises such as yoga , tai chi, and pilates will help melt tension away and strengthen the strength of your muscles.
Get enough rest
It may increase inflammation in the body by not having enough quality sleep. The additional inflammation may worsen symptoms of pain, depressed mood, exhaustion, and inability to focus properly in people with lupus. About 80 percent of people with lupus are affected by exhaustion.
The following steps will assist you in achieving the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep you need every night:
- Do not use any device that emits blue light — including computers, tablets, televisions, and smartphones — 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Make sure your room temperature is slightly cool and that the room is dark — use blackout curtains if necessary.
- Use a white noise machine to block out external sounds.
- Ensure you have a comfortable mattress, pillow, and bedding.
- If you are unable to sleep within 15 minutes of going to bed, get back up and sit in a dimly lit room until you are ready to try again.
- Stay consistent with the times you go to sleep and get up — even on weekends and holidays.
Exercise daily. To facilitate better sleep, exercise in the morning and have at least 5-6 hours of downtime before bedtime.
Manage pain. Make sure you control the discomfort so that you are enough relaxed to fall asleep. Take a warm bath before bed, or ask your partner or family member for a pain-relieving massage.
Limit naps. To stop them messing with the sleep-wake cycle of your body, restrict naps throughout the day to 30-60 minutes.
Be mindful of your eating patterns. Never go to bed hungry, but about 1-2 hours before you go to bed, it is advisable to avoid eating and drinking.
Limit caffeine intake. For around 6 hours, caffeine remains in your bloodstream, so avoid drinks and foods that contain caffeine after 3 p.m.
Avoid alcohol. To help you get to sleep, never use alcohol. While after drinking alcohol, you can fall asleep quicker, it significantly reduces the quality of your sleep.
Having a chronic condition such as lupus will make you feel powerless sometimes. Yet you can regain power and live a positive and productive life with lupus by adopting strategies that can enhance your quality of life.