Accepting A “New Normal” Life With Lupus

 

Life with Lupus can be a tough pill to swallow. For most, Lupus has a way of rearranging our lives at a moment’s notice. After a Lupus diagnosis, sometimes we are faced with enough questions to make our heads spin. But, there is hope.

Paying very close attention to our bodies is critical in learning to live a new normal with Lupus. By paying attention to our bodies, we are quickly able to learn our triggers. Lupus triggers are those circumstances that occur which will usually result in a Lupus flare.

A Lupus flare is a period of unwellness when Lupus attacks a perfectly healthy part of your body. Lupus flares can range in severity and can last anywhere from a day to several weeks or months.

Lupus fighters report flares that include, but are not limited to, headaches, muscle pain, inflammation, skin rashes, and disorders involving the kidneys, bones, heart, lungs, and brain.

Once we are able to establish things that may cause a Lupus flare, we should create new habits in our daily life to minimize those annoying, unpredictable flares.

It may be a new normal, but practicing good daily habits can make life with Lupus an acceptable new stage of your life.

Read here for detailed tips you can use daily to avoid a Lupus flare.

“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” -Nathaniel Branden

Please follow and like us:

The Impact of Lupus on the Entire Body

lupus affecting the body

The above image is simply a reminder that Lupus is much more than skin rashes and random pain. The effects of Lupus on the entire body is complicated and widespread. If you are experiencing symptoms related to those shown above, speak with your doctor to begin treatment before complications worsen.

 

Please follow and like us:

The Relation Between Melanin And Lupus

In humans, melanin is the primary determinant of skin color.

The melanin in the skin is produced by melanocytes, which are found in the basal layer of the epidermis. Generally, humans possess a similar concentration of melanocytes in their skin. However, the melanocytes in people of color produce variable amounts of melanin.

Some humans have very little or no melanin synthesis in their bodies, a condition known as albinism.

Exposure to sunlight stimulates the skin to produce vitamin D. Because high levels of cutaneous melanin act as a natural sun screen, dark skin can be a risk factor for vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D exerts a wide range of influences on immune functions. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with autoimmune diseases, especially lupus.

Vitamin D has been in the news lately for its positive impact on everything from Lupus to cardiovascular disorders.

The major biologic function of Vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones.

It is used, alone or in combination with calcium, to increase bone mineral density and decrease fractures. Recently, research also suggests that vitamin D may provide protection from osteoporosis, cardiovascular disorders, hypertension (high blood pressure), cancer, and Lupus.

It is important to know that it is possible to take too much Vitamin D. People often need to take large amounts of Vitamin D to reach the recommended levels in the blood. Some people may take a prescription strength dose of Vitamin D as high as 50,000 IU once a week. (This high dosage MUST be prescribed by a physician.)

Others use 2,000 to 3,000 IU of Vitamin D over the counter and do not take prescription doses of Vitamin D. Vitamin D levels in the blood should generally be between 30 and 100 nanograms per milliliter. But, between 20 and 30 nanograms per milliliter is considered an intermediate level according to the Endocrine Society clinical practice guidelines.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin so it sticks around for a longer time than water soluble vitamins, like Vitamin C which helps explain how you can take too much of it.   If your Vitamin D level is quite low, or doesn’t respond to 2,000 to 3,000 units of Vitamin D over the counter, a prescription for the higher dose is usually recommended.

In any case, it is wise to have the Vitamin D level in the blood checked periodically to make sure your levels are in an appropriate range.

For all my Lupus warriors with an abundance of melanin, it is crucial to have your Vitamin D levels checked. The fact that we have to avoid the sun further limits our Vitamin D absorption. Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider to assess your current Vitamin D levels. He/she will be able to prescribe a sufficient amount of this crucial vitamin to help reduce Lupus flares.

Be strong. Be fearless.

Please follow and like us:

Summertime With Lupus

Anytime spent battling Lupus is a major challenge for most of us. However, summertime with Lupus has proven to be especially complicated in comparison to the remainder of the year.

Needless to say, the sun is especially hot in the summer. Photosensitivity is an extreme sensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and other light sources. This is especially common in people with Lupus and a few other autoimmune diseases.

Photosensitivity is a major symptom of Lupus. It can cause skin rashes, fever, fatigue, joint pain, and other symptoms that make summertime unbearable for many Lupus warriors.

The link between the sun and lupus flare-ups is thought to be a set of inflammatory protein molecules called cytokines, which are activated when ultraviolet light hits the skin. The skin inflammation that results can create a chain reaction of other symptoms.

Personally, I have experienced major Lupus flares in the summer. I have an extreme sensitivity to sunlight in my eyes which makes it impossible to look directly in the direction of the sun.

I also get bad skin rashes on my face over the nose and cheeks. The white Vitiligo patches of skin on my legs spread more quickly in the summer as well. The exposure to the sun also trigger flu type symptoms that include extreme fatigue, low grade fever, and painful joints all over.

In conclusion, do your best to avoid the sun at all costs. These symptoms will undoubtedly occur during other times of the year but will generally worsen in the summer. The effects of Lupus flares in the summer will last far longer than the joys of outdoor summer activities.

Doctors say a UVA and UVB sunscreen is just one component of a multi-prong approach to limit the extent of Lupus symptoms while outdoors. Other strategies include sun-protection clothing, applying a sun-protection coating to car windows and staying indoors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m whenever possible.

 

Please follow and like us:

Signs and Symptoms Doctors Look For To Diagnose Lupus

To help doctors diagnose lupus, a list of 11 common criteria was developed by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). ACR is a professional association of rheumatologists. Rheumatologists are the doctors who specialize in treating diseases of the joints and muscles, like Lupus. If you have/had at least four of the criteria on the list, there is a strong chance that you may have Lupus.

  1. Malar rash – a rash over the cheeks and nose, often in the shape of a butterfly
  2. Discoid rash – a rash that appears as red, raised, disk-shaped patches
  3. Photosensitivity – a reaction to sun or light that causes a skin rash to appear or get worse
  4. Oral ulcers – sores appearing in the mouth
  5. Arthritis – joint pain and swelling of two or more joints in which the bones around the joints do not become destroyed
  6. Serositis – inflammation of the lining around the lungs (pleuritis) or inflammation of the lining around the heart that causes chest pain which is worse with deep breathing (pericarditis)
  7. Kidney disorder – persistent protein or cellular casts in the urine
  8. Neurological disorder – seizures or psychosis
  9. Blood disorder – anemia (low red blood cell count), leukopenia (low white blood cell count), lymphopenia (low level of specific white blood cells), or thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)
  10. Immunologic disorder – anti-DNA or anti-Sm or positive antiphospholipid antibodies
  11. Abnormal or positive antinuclear antibody (ANA) lab test

If you have yet to receive a Lupus diagnosis but feel you have Lupus based on the above criteria, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider to voice your concerns so that appropriate treatment can begin.

Please follow and like us:

How Do I Avoid a Lupus Flare Up?

If you have been wondering how to stop or avoid a Lupus flare up, I’ve got some great tips for you.

  • Avoid direct sunlight whenever possible. Stay indoors during the day when the sun is hottest. (10 a.m-3 p.m)  If you must go outside, be sure to wear protective gear such as wide brim hats, visors, light colored clothing, and really dope sunglasses.

 

 

  •  Avoid stress. Physical and mental stress are major Lupus triggers. So stay calm…and avoid stress. In other words, stay away from people and situations that will piss you off.

 

 

  •   Exercise. This one can be difficult for some who experience shortness of breath and/or  joint pain and inflammation. But do your best to find activities to keep you active.

 

 

  • Get plenty of rest. Many people may experience sleep problems, but you have to try hard to shut your overactive mind down and get some beauty sleep.

 

 

  • Take your medications as prescribed. Set an alarm or if you need a reminder to take your meds on time. If your meds are causing side effects that are too difficult to handle, be sure to consult your doctor for alternatives.

 

 

  •  Avoid foods that cause inflammation. Things like dairy, sugar, grain fed meats, and bad fats are very likely to cause inflammation in your body. Stay away from them.

Follow the tips above and your body will surely thank you for it.

Melanin And Lupus - Blog Directory OnToplist.com“>Melanin And Lupus - Blog Directory OnToplist.com

 

Please follow and like us:

Lupus Symptoms

 

Lupus is often called the “great imitator” since it so closely mimics or is mistaken for many other illnesses. Getting diagnosed with Lupus usually takes longer than it should.

Below is a list of common Lupus symptoms. Symptoms vary from person to person depending upon disease activity and severity of flare-ups.

If you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms and have yet to be diagnosed, it may be helpful to mention Lupus to your medical care giver. Ask him/her to run the necessary blood tests to rule out autoimmune diseases.

Initially, some common, yet chronic symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Low Grade Fever
  • Joint Pain
  • Muscle Pain

Since these common symptoms occur in many illnesses, a patient can not be diagnosed with Lupus simply for having these symptoms. However, these symptoms are highly suggestive when they occur together and mentioning these symptoms to your doctor may help point them in the right direction.

The additional signs and symptoms below can be more indicative of Lupus but still require laboratory testing for an accurate diagnosis.

  • Skin Rash (including a butterfly shaped rash that is usually seen on the cheeks and bridge of the nose)
  • Joint Pain
  • Anemia
  • Lung Problems
  • Heart Problems
  • Kidney Problems
  • Headaches
  • Mood Disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Depression (including suicidal thoughts)
  • Reproductive Problems (miscarriage)
  • Poor Sleep Quality
  • Sun Sensitivity

Again, having these symptoms do not mean you have Lupus. However, these symptoms should prompt your doctor to order ANA blood tests to get the ball rolling in your proper diagnosis.

Please follow and like us: