7 Ways to Live Well With Lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease affecting at least 1.5 million Americans. It occurs when for some reason the immune system goes haywire and begins producing antibodies against the body's own healthy tissue. This can cause pain, inflammation and damage in multiple parts of the body. The disease typically flares, meaning that there are times when it is active and causing symptoms and there are times when it is quiet and seemingly gone. Lupus symptoms range from mild to severe, and at its worst the disease can be fatal. While lupus has no cure, there are steps you can take to minimize your symptoms and boost your quality of life. These include:

  • Avoiding excess sun exposure. Excess sun exposure is a bad idea for everyone, but lupus patients are particularly vulnerable to the ravages of the rays because ultraviolet light can trigger symptoms. Wear a UVA- and UVB-blocking sunscreen and avoid going out midday, when the rays are at their strongest.
  • Taking care with your diet. Some experts believe that fish and fish oil have anti-inflammatory properties. Aim for at least two servings of fish a week. And avoid alfalfa sprouts-they contain an amino acid called L-canavanine that can rev up the immune system and cause inflammation.
  • Staying active. Swollen joints may make exercise uncomfortable, but it's well worth doing. Go for activities that don't put a lot of stress on joints, such as walking and swimming.
  • Using heat. When your body hurts, listen to it and apply moist heat to affected areas. Soak in a hot tub or take a steam in a sauna. Moist heat is much more effective than dry heat.
  • Staying away from cigarettes. Smoking is a no-no for a multitude of reasons, but lupus patients may find their symptoms worsening due to specific substances in tobacco smoke.
  • Controlling fatigue. Chronic inflammation can wear out the body and cause exhaustion. Becoming a couch potato will only weaken you further, but overdoing activity may cause a flare. Look for balance: Alternate periods of rest with periods of activity.
  • Preparing yourself for pregnancy. Since the typical lupus patient is a woman in her childbearing years, it's vital to know how the disease impacts pregnancy. Most lupus pregnancies are successful, but some women may experience a flare after delivery. You may need specific treatment during or after pregnancy to prevent complications.



Lupus Foundation of America