Tips to be Fit: Lupus Part 2
3 of every 10 Americans know someone with Lupus.
At this time there is no cure for lupus. Treatment is focused on controlling the symptoms with the hope of the disease going into remission. With a combination of medication, rest, exercise, proper nutrition and stress management, lupus patients can sometimes go into remission or suffer less of the symptoms that help improve quality of life. Remission is when a lupus patient has shown improvement for over a six-week period. Remissions are often spontaneous and must be maintained by good health habits along with some type of medication. As with any crippling, chronic and incurable disease there are a lot of fad cures and diets that claim to cure lupus. Many of these therapies seem safe, simple and potentially effective alternatives. These alternative therapies can be seductive, but before using a nontraditional treatment you should get all the facts. The cost of these alternative therapies is estimated in the billions. Don’t take everything you read or hear as true when it comes to your health, no matter what the source. Questionable remedies have included diets, vitamins, minerals, fish oils, placenta-derived factors, venoms, laser irradiation, acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, biofeedback and herbal remedies. The danger of most the questionable remedies is that occasionally the lupus patient stops regular treatment and monitoring of the disease.
Ask yourself these few questions when trying to evaluate information:
1. Is the information being used to advertise a product? There are a lot of infomercials out today that seem like real information.
2. Who paid for the research? You always have to consider the source because no one will do a bad study on himself or herself.
3. Do you believe the information just because you want to believe it? Be objective, know what’s being explained. Lead with your head not your heart.
4. Do the experts agree? Experts do disagree but some of them should support the new information.
Treatment of lupus has improved in the past years. We have the means for earlier and more accurate diagnosis and better understanding of immune abnormalities. Most treatments are effective in minimizing symptoms, reducing inflammation and maintaining normal body functions. Treatment of lupus is similar to that for rheumatoid arthritis which includes making the patient comfortable, modifying the disease process by use of the latest drug programs, maintaining and improving muscle and joint function, and sometimes surgery. Treatment for lupus also includes rest and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and corticosteroids. Anti-malarial drugs seem to be effective against the skin rash. Drug treatment is always individualized for each lupus patient. For mild inflammation, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications are used. Corticosteroids is the single most important group of drugs use to treat lupus. Anti-malarials such as hydroxychloroquine have been used to reduce lupus activity and are useful for treating problems with skin and joints. More severe lupus calls for immunosuppressive drugs, such as azathioprine and cyclophosphaminde. Regular medical evaluations and laboratory testing are important to monitor lupus to insure the best treatment. Lupus can enter remission, a period with little or no activity. During this time your medication can be reduced or stopped.
Several measures can help to prevent the risk of flare-ups of lupus. Photosensitive people should avoid excessive sunlight and use sunscreens to help prevent rashes. Regular exercise will help prevent muscles from becoming weak and fatigued. Immunizing will protect against various infections. Other preventive measures include not smoking, limited use of alcohol, taking prescribed medications as directed weight loss and getting regular check ups.
Pregnancy and lupus
Not many years ago, many doctors advised women that they should not get pregnant, because of the tremendous health risk for both the mother and the unborn baby. While the fertility rate is not affected by lupus, discouraging pregnancies was normal practice because women with lupus often had miscarriages or gave birth prematurely. Lupus pregnancies are still considered high risk, but with the new medical care programs lupus patients can have safe pregnancies that go to full term. Careful monitoring and assessing of the patients with both laboratory and clinical test is a standard procedure. Some medical problems that can occur include Hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hyperglycemia preeclampsia and urinary tract infection. The type of delivery is not affected by lupus and is left to the patient and the doctor. Breast-feeding is not hindered because of lupus, but in some rare cases, breast-feeding can put a lot of stress on the patient’s body. Medical problems that occur after the pregnancies include venous thrombosis and most of the problems that develop during pregnancies. If you have lupus and you’re pregnant you should partner yourself with a doctor that has a history of working with pregnant lupus patients.
Lupus is a disease that has a lot of mystery and troubling uncertainties and it’s impossible to know when it will go into remission and when there will be a flare-up. Current research and treatments offer hope that a cure will be developed in the near future. This releases the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer with lupus from the “virtual death sentence” lupus once dictated.
Malar Rash — Rash over the cheeks
Discoid Rash— Red raised patches
Photosensitivity — Reaction to sunlight, resulting in the development of or increase in skin rash
Oral Ulcers — Ulcers in the nose or mouth, usually painless
Arthritis — Non erosive arthritis involving two or more peripheral joints (arthritis in which the bones around the joint do not become destroyed
Serositis Pleuritis or pericarditis
Renal Disorder — Excessive protein in the urine (greater than 0.5gm / day or 3+ on test sticks) and /or cellular casts (abnormal elements the urine, derived from red and /or white cells and /or kidney tubule cells)
Neurologic Disorder Seizures (convulsions) and /or psychosis in the absence of drugs or metabolic disturbances, which are known to cause such effects
Hematologic Disorder — Hemolytic anemia or leukopenia (white blood count below 4,000 cells per cubic millimeter) or lymphopenia (less than 1,500 lymphocytes per cubic millimeter) or thrombocytopenia (less than 100,000 platelets per cubic millimeter). The leukopenia and lymphopenia must be detected on two or more occasions. The thrombocytopenia must be detected in the absence of drugs known to induce it.
Immunologic Disorder — Positive LE prep test, positive anti-DNA test, positive anti-Sm test or false positive syphilis test (VDRL).
Antinuclear Antibody — Positive test for antinuclear antibodies (ANA) in the absence of drugs known to induce it.
Antinuclear antibody: Acts against the nuclear material of the body’s (ANA) cells rather than against specific disease-causing agents.
Analgesic: A medication that relieves pain.
Antibodies: Special proteins produced by the body in response to substances such as infectious agents or foreign matter.
Antigens: Substances that induce the formation of antibodies.
Arthritis: An inflammation of a joint that is usually accompanied by pain and frequently changes in the joint. The term is also used to mean the family of over 100 rheumatic diseases.
Autoimmune Disease: A disease in which the immune system loses its ability to distinguish between normal and foreign substances and produces antibodies against normal parts of the body causing injury to the tissues.
Biologics: Substances related to normal body products that are being tested as treatments for several rheumatic diseases.
Chronic: Lasting for a long period of time.
CNS: An abbreviation for central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord)
Collagen: The main structural protein of the skin, tendon, cartilage and connective tissues.
Complement: A series of proteins normally present in blood. A falling value may suggest disease activity before symptoms begin. A rising value may mean improvement.
Corticosteroids: Potent anti-inflammatory hormones that are made naturally in the body or synthetically for use as drugs. Synthetic forms of these hormones may be taken by mouth or injected directly into the site of inflammation. The most commonly prescribed drug of this type is prednisone.
Discoid lupus: Involves only the skin. It is characterized by reddish, severe lesions may cause scarring and skin pigment changes. These lesions may also occur on other parts of the body, especially those exposed to the sun.
Drug-induced lupus: A lupus-like syndrome caused by the administration of certain drugs. The most commonly implicated drugs are those used to treat hypertension and irregular heart rhythms.
Flare: A period in which disease symptoms reappear or become worse.
Genetic marker: A specific tissue type or gene, similar to a blood type that is passed on from parent to their children. Some genetic markers occur frequently in persons with certain rheumatic disease.
Immunosuppressants: Substances that suppress or interfere with the normal immune response. They are used to treat autoimmune diseases and to enhance the survival of tissue grafts and transplants.
Immune response: The reaction of the immune system against foreign substances. When this reaction occurs against substances or tissues within the body, it’s called an auto immune reaction.
Immune system: A complex system that normally protects the body from infections. It includes groups of cell, the chemicals that control them and the chemicals they release.
Inflammation: A characteristic reaction of tissues to injury or disease. It’s marked by four signs. These signs are swelling, redness, heat and pain.
Nonsteroidalant: A group of drugs, such as aspirin and aspirin-like drugs, inflammatory drugs used to reduce inflammation that causes joint pain, (NSAIDs) stiffness and swelling.
Photosensitivity: Sensitivity to light. Many lupus patients are extremely sensitive to sunlight, which may trigger skin lesions, arthritic symptoms and a variety of other organic problems.
Remission: A period during which symptoms of the disease are reduced (partial remission) or disappear (complete remission).
Systemic: Affecting many parts of the body.
Vasculitis: Inflammation of the blood vessels throughout the body.
Join me Saturday, Nov. 4 at 7 a.m. at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the Philadelphia “Step Out Walk To Stop Diabetes.”
Before starting your fitness program, consult your physician.