Rashes, Tiredness, Aches and Pains? You Might Have Lupus
The autoimmune disease Lupus, or lupus erythematous to use its proper name, is an often misdiagnosed and poorly understood long-term condition, with no known cure. There’s a lot of misinformation surrounding Lupus, and several similar conditions that exhibit many of the same symptoms.
This is a long-term, recurrent condition, with a wide range of potential symptoms. Generally the treatments focus on managing the condition, and making sure you can keep living normally.
Bear in mind that Lupus is one of those diseases or conditions that people frequently misdiagnose themselves as having. The internet is full of worrying stats, shocking pictures, and vague symptoms, making it very easy for those in a paranoid mood to suddenly get six different diseases and three form of cancer after half an hour of browsing. Until you’re sure you have something, don’t worry about it.
Do You Definitely Have Lupus?
Lupus is frequently misdiagnosed, and can sometimes be hard to recognize. You could have all the symptoms, or you could have only a few, meaning confusion with other conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia is easily done.Unless a doctor tells you in no uncertain terms that you have Lupus, I would avoid jumping to conclusions. That’s never going to be fruitful.
Key symptoms include:
Fatigue – One of the main symptoms of Lupus is extreme tiredness. This is easily the most common and likely symptom, and can be extremely disruptive to everyday life, as once easy household tasks become challenging. Regardless of how many hours of sleep you’re getting, you’re still feeling exhausted. In this regard it’s very similar to Fibromyalgia, as that also causes extreme fatigue, and some joint and muscle pain.
Rashes – Many people with Lupus develop rashes, often on their face or hands. These facial rashes form in a distinctive ‘butterfly’ pattern across the nose and cheeks. They are sensitive to sunlight, and can be sore. This is the most distinctive and clearest diagnosis clue.
Joint Pain and Swelling – Lastly there’s joint pain. Similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus can cause the joints to ache and swell, potentially becoming stiff. This can make easy day-to-day activities challenging and draining, making it a major problem for the sufferer.
Generally speaking, the surest way you can self-diagnose Lupus is through a combination of these conditions. While both joint pain and fatigue can be signs of Arthritis and Fibromyalgia, when combined with the distinctive and unusual rash patterns and consistencies, you can be fairly sure of Lupus. Otherwise, ask a doctor, and don’t assume the worst before you do.
That’s not to say the symptoms stop there, sadly. Other symptoms include fever, swollen lymph glands, hair loss, chest pain, and depression, as well as others. This huge array of conditions can render a severe sufferer of Lupus disfigured and debilitated, but the effects are not usually that destructive, and generally come and go without causing too much discomfort, provided they’re managed consistently and diligently.
What’s the Best Course of Action?
Obviously, first of all, you’ve got to stay positive and optimistic. Unless you’ve got the clearest rash/joint pain/fatigue combo, there’s every chance you’re misdiagnosing something else, and there are plenty of substantially more innocuous reasons for these symptoms, such as allergies.
Once you know for sure you have it, it’s a case of treating the symptoms and learning to cope with the condition. For the physically limiting symptoms, like the joint pain, there’s dietary and medical treatments. However, many of the drugs prescribed by doctors can carry unwanted side-effects, meaning dietary and lifestyle approaches can be the way forward, if your symptoms aren’t too extreme.
As far as the fatigue goes, napping is going to be your best friend. A quick mid-afternoon nap can help you deal with the fatigue caused by Lupus, and help get you living your life again.
One of the harder elements to deal with are the aesthetics. Changes to your face and hands can severely knock confidence and self-esteem, and the condition has been known to cause depression, as well, so managing your feelings and responses is all-important.
There are plenty of medical treatments out there, mainly utilizing prescription drugs to dull the symptoms, and provide a quick solution, but one of the best long-term policies is always going to be lifestyle treatments, due to the side-effects and limited effectiveness of the prescription medications.
Take a long hard look at your diet. Is there any chance you could be allergic to anything you eat frequently? Thinking gluten, eggs, nuts, milk? Subtracting things from your diet to see if you feel any better, or the opposite, eating lots and seeing if you feel worse, can yield some useful information. Cutting out foods your allergic too can be hugely beneficial. Same goes for pets and dust.
Beyond allergies, you’ve got to think about eating a healthy diet in general, less fast food, less alcohol, if you smoke, quit. It sounds hard, but when it comes to potentially debilitating conditions, you’ve got to use everything in your arsenal to get on with your life.
Being diagnosed with a condition like this doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative thing. It can prove a wakeup call, a challenge to get your diet and lifestyle in order, and get healthier in general. Many sufferers are able to completely deal with their Lupus and live a completely normal life, with just some fairly strict diet and lifestyle changes. With new developments, there’s even signs of technology proving helpful with Lupus.
Why Now? What Could Have Caused It?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease. This means that when it occurs, it’s the body’s immune system effectively attacking itself and causing problems. For many people, they start seeing symptoms from around thirty onwards, although it can become apparent at a much younger age.
Little is known about what directly causes Lupus, and there is no true cure, just treatments for the various symptoms and problems it causes. It’s a lifelong condition, with the symptoms flaring up from mild and barely noticeable to potentially severe. Most sufferers manage the condition through a wide combination of prescription medications, diet and lifestyle. Modern research has hinted that Lupus may have some genetic factors, meaning some people are genetically inclined towards getting the condition.
It’s important not to neglect the mental health side of the condition either. With depression frequently listed as a symptom, combined with the potentially disfiguring rashes and mouth sores, it can be easy to take a self-esteem hit, and become melancholic. However, there are plenty of ways to remain positive and manage the condition, so you can live life on your own terms.
Common Triggers for Lupus Symptoms
One of the key factors with Lupus is that no two cases are completely alike. In terms of the symptoms, severity, and age of onset, everyone who suffers from Lupus has it slightly differently. That’s equally the case with triggers.
When it comes to managing your symptoms, as you go on, you’ll discover various things unique to yourself that cause the symptoms to get worse or more intense.
Generally speaking, some of these triggers include:
Emotional stress and strain – If you’re looking to manage your Lupus symptoms, pregnancies, divorce, moving house and high pressure careers may be off the menu. Obviously many of these aren’t really a choice, but the fact remains, you need to stay relaxed and chilled out. Take up yoga or meditation.
Exposure to direct sunlight or UV black lights – This can worsen your symptoms because aspects of Lupus, the rash in particular, are badly exacerbated by exposure to sunlight.
Any kind of prescription drugs known to make you more sensitive to sunlight – This is basically a knock-on effect to the previous trigger. If the drug in question is listed to increase sensitivity to UV, it’s probably best avoided, if possible.
Physical exhaustion – This can cause a flair up in your symptoms. Obviously, fatigue is already a symptom, but if you’re doing strenuous activities and pushing yourself too hard, you can expect other symptoms to flare up too.
Traumatic, severe injuries – These cause an immune response from your body, which can have a knock on effect as far as your Lupus is concerned, exacerbating other symptoms.
Infections, viruses and colds – Similar to the previous point, anything that stirs up your immune system is probably going to cause problems with your Lupus symptoms.
Allergies – If you’re eating foods or spending time around animals you might be allergic to, it’s worth checking out. Allergies can cause a wide range of problems, and causing your Lupus symptoms to worsen isn’t out the question.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to managing your Lupus symptoms, there are tons of different approaches, schools of thought and ideas to try. You should never despair, because provided you’re willing to alter your lifestyle and stay optimistic, there’s always going to be something else to try, and that something could help massively. If you’re unsure about anything, you should contact a doctor, always.
Lupus symptoms can be very manageable for some people, often proving almost unnoticeable. The main risk, beyond a lot of potentially annoying and limiting physical factors is maintaining a healthy, forward thinking and optimistic mental state. Get that down, and everything else will be a straightforward.