We all suffer from aches and pains at times. More often than not, these are simply down to a busy lifestyle, over-exertion in the gym or a bad posture. But sometimes they are something more, and when coupled with further symptoms like chronic fatigue and skin problems, you may have a more serious health issue on your hands. One frequently overlooked illness that encompasses these symptoms is lupus. Read on to learn more about the disease, and how to manage the condition will a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

What is Lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects the connective tissues in the body. Autoimmune means that the immune system mistakes the body’s own cells for foreign bodies, and attacks them as it would with a bacterial infection or virus. As the result, the cells under attack are damaged, causing inflammation and a certain amount of deterioration of the area.

Since the connective tissue of the body is so wide-spread, the disease can cause potential damage to major organs like the heart, liver and kidneys, as well as to the nervous system, joints and skin. The disease usually manifests itself in periods of flare-ups and remission, often triggered by external factors like stress and tiredness.

The nature of the disease makes it very individualised, since the lifestyle of the sufferer plays such a key role in its severity. The disease is serious, and should be treated as such, however advances in treatments now mean that between 80-90% of sufferers are expected to have a normal life span.

What are the Symptoms of Lupus?

Lupus, despite being a well-known disease, is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed illnesses. This can be attributed to its symptoms, which can be very similar to a number of other afflictions like leukemia and ME. These symptoms include:

various symptoms of lupus
  1. Fatigue
  2. Joint and muscle pain
  3. Low moods and depression
  4. Weight loss
  5. Skin rashes

Lupus is more prevalent in women, and in those of non-European descent.

Living with Lupus:

At present, there is unfortunately no cure for lupus. However, treatment is now very effective, reducing flare-ups and limiting the risks of complications linked to the disease. Medication includes immuno-suppressants to prevent the immune system attacking the body, and steroids to reduce inflammation. However, almost as important as these is the need to monitor lifestyle, and to make sure that you are giving yourself the best chance possible. Here are some tips on how to live with lupus with the least complications as possible:

  1. Listen to Your Body:
    Tiredness is an ongoing symptom of lupus, but it is also a vital indicator of how well your body is dealing with the condition; Often the more tired you are, the more the body is struggling to keep flare-ups under control. So give yourself a helping hand by resting when you feel tired, and not ignoring the warning signs that you are being given. By resting, you allow your body to focus its energy on the repair and maintenance of your health.
  1. Try to Avoid Stress:
    Not an easy task in a hectic, modern world where people are working longer hours, and under more economic pressures. However, stress will exacerbate any health problem, and flood the blood stream with cortisones that increase inflammation problems: a surefire way to worsen your condition.
  1. Avoid Direct Sunlight:
    UV light is known to aggravate lupus, so be sure to wear at least spf 30 when spending time outdoors. The downside of this is that your vitamin D levels may be affected, since UV stimulates the production of vitamin D in the body. Try to counter this by eating foods rich in vitamin D, and talk to your doctor about supplements to keep your levels topped up.
  1. Avoid Alfalfa Sprouts:
    It may seem like an odd one, but these little sprouts that are so often found in pre-packaged salads, are a known trigger for lupus flare-ups. So check food packaging, and give them a wide berth at the salad bar!
  1. Stop Smoking:
    As well as being great for your health in general, stopping smoking will reduce the severity of flare-ups, and improve the condition of your skin; it’s an easy way to immediately help your lupus.
  1. Try Low Impact Exercise:
    Any exercise that gently stretches and works your muscles and joints will help with the aches and pains that accompany lupus. In addition, the weight loss that you can achieve as a result will ease the pressure on your joints. Try walking, swimming or yoga for effective exercise that won’t cause any joint stress.
  1. Be Aware of Your Mental Health:
    Unfortunately, a symptom of lupus can be low moods; make sure you don’t suffer too severe an impact on your mental health. Talk to friends and loved ones about your condition and how you are feeling, and if your moods decline too significantly then make sure you talk to your doctor about treatment options.

What the Press Says About Lupus:

BBC News: (Click article for full size)

BBC News: (Click article for full size)

Mail Online: (Click article for full size)

Michael Donelly

About Michael Donelly

Michael Donelly is Gnet's founder and occasionally posts information. If you'd like to get in touch about anything business related you can contact him on Twitter: @MichaelDonelly2. And if you like what you read here then why not sign up for our newsletter to get regular updates on your interests?

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