Systemic lupus erythematosus occurs when the human immune system goes haywire and starts attacking the body’s tissues and organs. Lupus causes inflammation which can lead to a wide variety of seemingly unrelated health problems. Doctors can have a hard time diagnosing and treating systemic lupus erythematosus because there is no clear cut set of lupus symptoms and can strike anybody, including people of both gender and of any age, race, class, or ethnic background. But don't worry; there IS information on lupus symptoms and treatment that you can learn about.
What Are Lupus Symptoms?
Many people with lupus are diagnosed with other ailments because of its various symptoms, so some sufferers do not realize they have it. Besides every case of lupus disease is different, which makes it even harder to be noted. But they do have something in common. But keep in mind is that not every lupus sufferer gets all of the following common lupus symptoms.
- Painful or swollen joints, often mistaken for arthritis
- Swelling of the feet, hands, legs and around the eyes, sometimes called edema
- Fatigue or extreme tiredness, often called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- A butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and the nose
- Photosensitivity that is sensitive to light and the sunlight
- Pleurisy or feeling chest pains when breathing deeply
- Ulcers in the mouth and on the nose
- Premature hair loss
- Raynaud’s phenomenon that fingers turn white or blue in the cold
- Abnormal blood clotting
When to See a Doctor
If you display more than one of the common symptoms of lupus, you might have the ailment. The first thing you need to do is to see a doctor; normal general practitioners often lack the experience to deal with lupus, so you may need to call a specialist.
Rheumatologists and immunologists are specialists that deal with immune system problems such as lupus. You can contact one directly or through your general practitioner, if you have any of the following common symptoms:
- Swelling of the feet or lower legs
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Sudden unexplained behavior changes
- A fever of over 100.3°Fahrenheit (38.1° Celsius) without cold or flu symptoms
- Blood in your urine
- A sudden drop in urination
- Shortness of breath
You should call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately if you have the following symptoms:
- Excessive sweating
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Pain pressure or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, upper chest, shoulders, or arms
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Sudden weakness
- An irregular or fast heartbeat
- Sudden numbness or paralysis
- Sudden vision changes
- Sudden unexplained nausea or vomiting
- A sudden and intense headache
These could be symptoms of a serious, potentially life-threatening problem such as heart attack that requires immediate medical treatment.
Lupus cannot be cured, but lupus symptoms can be managed through a combination of home remedies and medications.
1. Home Remedies for Lupus
Mild lupus symptoms can be cured with simple home remedies, here are some effective remedies:
- Regular Checkups: The most important thing a person with lupus can do is to have regular checkups, preferably with a rheumatologist or immunologist. In addition to scheduled checkups, the sufferer should see the doctor whenever a flare up or change occurs.
- Get Plenty of Sleep: One of the most common symptoms of lupus is excessive fatigue that doesn’t go away easily. Therefore it is important to get lots of sleep—9 to 10 hours a night. It is also a good idea to take naps during the day and limit physical activities.
- Be Careful with Sunlight: The ultraviolet radiation in sunlight can trigger a lupus attack. Try to stay indoors in the middle of the day when the sun is brightest. If you must go out, wear a hat, a long sleeved shirt or jacket and long plants. Wearing sunscreens with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 55 degrees or higher is also a good idea.
- Get Plenty of Exercise: Regular exercise will help the body control lupus symptoms, especially mental health problems. It can also help prevent heart attacks.
- Quit Smoking: Tobacco smoke will make the effects of lupus worse and increase your potential for a heart attack.
- Stick to a Healthy Diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and low in meats, fats, salt, and sugar can help you avoid some lupus symptoms. Check with the doctor because there might be dietary restrictions.
2. Take Medications for Lupus
If your lupus symptoms persist and home remedies fail to do the trick, you should turn to medications for help. The following medication is recommended for enduring lupus symptoms.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
OTC pain relievers such as Aleve (naproxen sodium), aspirin, and Advil (ibuprofen) can be effective because they reduce inflammation. Stronger NSAIDs can be prescribed.
Side effects: stomach bleeding, kidney problems, and potential heart troubles.
Malaria medications such as hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) can control some lupus symptoms. They are only available through prescription.
Side effects: nausea and damage to the eyes.
Drugs like Prednisone can control inflammation, but they have serious side effects, which may even outweigh the benefits.
Side effects: high blood pressure, weight gain, easy bruising, osteoporosis, and a higher risk of infection.
Prescription immunosuppressants such as azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan) and belimumab (Benlysta) are effective because they suppress the immune system. They are only used in severe cases of lupus because of serious side effects.
Side effect: higher susceptibility to infection, liver damage, infertility and a higher risk of cancer.