Sometimes, a lupus flare-up comes suddenly and without warning. You may see a butterfly rash over the bridge of your nose and swelling, or you may experience headaches, dizziness, a fever and pain in various locations. According to the Lupus Foundation, there are some things that you can do to prevent a flare-up.
Always take your prescribed medication, never miss a doctor's appointment (even if you feel fine), avoid sulfonomide drugs (typically used to treat bronchitis or urinary tract infections), decrease your exposure to sunlight and use sunscreen, get lots of rest and do not smoke. The good news is that 80-90% of the people with this condition can still live a normal life span, with treatment.
There are five types of lupus: systemic lupus erythematosus, which affects the joints and organs; discoid lupus, which affects the skin; sub-acute cutaneous lupus erythematosus, which is characterized by skin lesions; drug-induced lupus that develops after a drug reaction; and neonatal lupus that affects newborns. Lupus signs include: fatigue, fever, weight loss/gain, joint pain/stiffness/swelling, butterfly rashes on the cheeks, skin lesions that worsen with sunlight, mouth sores, fingers and toes that turn white or blue in the cold, shortness of breath, chest pain, dry eyes, easy bruising, anxiety, depression and/or memory loss.
The Lupus Foundation says there are no two cases of such a condition that are exactly alike. Signs may emerge gradually or come on suddenly, and can be mild or severe. Most people have “flare-ups" or episodes. To test for lupus, your doctor will ask you some questions, run a standard physical, take urine and blood samples and perform an electrocardiogram.
Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) manifests itself as an inflammation, with rashes and scarring on the face, ears and scalp. The lesions may be inflamed, scaling or crusty in appearance, with the centers lighter and the rims darker. A small percentage of these patients have internal organ failure too, but usually symptoms are primarily skin-related.
Cortisone ointment or injections can be helpful in treating the flare-ups. Drugs like Plaquenil, Aralen, Imiquimod, Quinacrine, Accutane or Soriatane are sometimes prescribed but should be carefully monitored for side effects.
Dealing with this condition can be an emotional ordeal. Sometimes sufferers encounter depression, anxiety, fatigue and high levels of stress. Learn all you can about systemic lupus erythematosus to help yourself cope. Reading about new treatments and research being done can give you a sense of hope.
Be open with your family and friends about how you are feeling and let them know how they can help. Meditating, writing in a journal or simply making time for yourself through rituals or routines can make life more enjoyable as well. For sufferers of this condition, it's empowering to connect with others who are experiencing the same life events. You can check the Lupus Foundation or Arthritis Foundation websites for the nearest chapter.
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