Prevention of Lupus


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Prevention of Lupus: Steps to prevent flares, such as limiting the time you spend in the sun and getting enough rest and quiet, can also be helpful.

Preventing a Flare

  • Learn to recognize that a flare is coming.

  • Talk with your doctor.

  • Try to set realistic goals and priorities.

  • Limit the time you spend in the sun.

  • Maintain a healthy diet.

  • Develop coping skills to help limit stress.

  • Get enough rest and quiet.

  • Moderately exercise when possible.

  • Develop a support system by surrounding yourself with people you trust and feel comfortable with (family, friends, etc.).
1

Despite the symptoms of lupus and the potential side effects of treatment, people with lupus can maintain a high quality of life overall. One key to managing lupus is to understand the disease and its impact. Learning to recognize the warning signs of a flare can help the patient take steps to ward it off or reduce its intensity. Many people with lupus experience increased fatigue, pain, a rash, fever, abdominal discomfort, headache, or dizziness just before a flare. Developing strategies to prevent flares can also be helpful, such as learning to recognize your warning signals and maintaining good communication with your doctor.

It is also important for people with lupus to receive regular health care, instead of seeking help only when symptoms worsen. Having a medical exam and laboratory work on a regular basis allows the doctor to note any changes and may help predict flares. The treatment plan, which is tailored to the individual's specific needs and circumstances, can be adjusted accordingly. If new symptoms are identified early, treatments may be more effective. Other concerns also can be addressed at regular checkups. The doctor can provide guidance about such issues as the use of sunscreens, stress reduction, and the importance of structured exercise and rest, as well as birth control and family planning. Because people with lupus can be more susceptible to infections, the doctor may recommend yearly influenza vaccinations or pneumococcal vaccination for some patients.

Warning Signs of a Flare

  • Increased fatigue
  • Pain
  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Preventing a Flare

  • Learn to recognize your warning signals
  • Maintain good communication with your doctor

People with lupus should receive regular preventive health care, such as gynecological and breast examinations. Regular dental care will help avoid potentially dangerous infections. If a person is taking corticosteroids or antimalarial medications, a yearly eye exam should be done to screen for and treat eye problems.

Staying healthy requires extra effort and care for people with lupus, so it becomes especially important to develop strategies for maintaining wellness. Wellness involves close attention to the body, mind, and spirit. One of the primary goals of wellness for people with lupus is coping with the stress of having a chronic disorder. Effective stress management varies from person to person. Some approaches that may help include exercise, relaxation techniques such as meditation, and setting priorities for spending time and energy.

Developing and maintaining a good support system is also important. A support system may include family, friends, medical professionals, community organizations, and organized support groups. Participating in a support group can provide emotional help, boost self-esteem and morale, and help develop or improve coping skills. (For more information on support groups, see the Additional Resources section).

Learning more about lupus may also help. Studies have shown that patients who are well informed and participate actively in their own care experience less pain, make fewer visits to the doctor, build self-confidence, and remain more active.

Tips for Working With Your Doctor

  • Seek a health care provider who will listen to and address your concerns.
  • Provide complete, accurate medical information.
  • Make a list of your questions and concerns in advance.
  • Be honest and share your point of view with the health care provider.
  • Ask for clarification or further explanation if you need it.
  • Talk to other members of the health care team, such as nurses, therapists, or pharmacists.
  • Do not hesitate to discuss sensitive subjects (for example, birth control, intimacy) with your doctor.
  • Discuss any treatment changes with your doctor before making them.
2

Footnotes:
1. excerpt from The Many Shades of Lupus: NIAMS
2. excerpt from Handout on Health Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: NIAMS

Last revision: June 2, 2003

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