Living with Lupus
The patient with lupus can lead a normal life with the disease from a family, occupational, and social point of view, due to the improvement in the treatments. However, the chronic nature of the disease means that the patient has to follow a certain discipline as regards the medical controls and recommendations, and follow-up of treatment, that are usually long-term, as well as some of your activities may also be limited. In this sense, you have to keep adapting to the rhythm set by the disease and the effects of the medication.
Alcohol and tobacco. Due to the inflammation and damage in the skin tissues and blood vessels, it is advised to avoid drinking alcohol and smoking.
Diet. The diet should be balanced with foods with a low content of salt, sugar, and fat, and with a high fibre content. If there is kidney involvement, the consumption of salty foods must be avoided. The “Mediterranean diet” is highly recommended, as it leads to lower obesity levels and helps to reduce the risks of diabetes, high blood pressure, acute myocardial infarction (heart attacks), cerebral vascular accidents (strokes), etc.
Excercise. Exercise is recommendable, but must be moderate, and exhausting exercise must always be avoided. It is recommended to carry out aerobic activities like walking, swimming, or riding a bicycle, in order to prevent muscle weakness and to control the fatigue. Furthermore, exercise brings about a feeling of well-being.
Sleep. It is advisable that patients with lupus sleep around 7-8 hours a day and, above all, at night. In flare-up periods, short naps throughout the day are recommendable.
Sexuality. The most important thing if you have a worry of a sexual nature, is to talk about it with your partner and, if there are any doubts, mention them to the medical team.Patients with lupus may experience the following symptoms that may have an influence on their sex life:decrease in libido or sexual desire, particularly due corticosteroids; joint pain; headache; tiredness and mouth sores. Lupus is not contagious, but, however, precautions have to be taken against Sexually Transmitted Diseases and, even more so, if immunosuppressants are being taken. It is not recommended that women with lupus take the contraceptive pill as the hormones can worsen the disease or cause a flare-up.
Social and emotional support. It is very important to surround yourself with people that know the disease and understand it, in order to feel supported at times when the mood declines. Professional associations, as well as patient groups, can be a great help.
When to go to the doctor?
Whenever a patient with lupus has any of the following symptoms they must get in touch with the doctor:
- Presence of blood on vomiting, or in the faeces
- Severe abdominal pain
- Pain in the chest
- Unusual fever
- Excess of bruising or bleeding in any part of the body
- Confusion or mood changes
- Combination of headache with stiffness of the neck and a fever. These symptoms require getting in touch with the doctor immediately
- When side-effects are noted after a new treatment
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