Lupus is an intermittent autoimmune disease where at times you might feel completely normal, and other times when your symptoms — such as joint pain, muscle fatigue, fever, and skin rashes — seem to worsen. These stretches of worsened symptoms are known as flare-ups, often making you feel ill. Sometimes a rheumatologist or other specialist may prescribe a biologic infusion such as Saphnelo or Benlysta to people with lupus to treat their condition.
Lupus flare-ups can sometimes put a damper on life, making it difficult to work or doing fun activities. But there’s good news – you don’t have to be miserable during a flare-up… here are a few tips that will help you feel better, faster.
Get Plenty of Rest
Rest can feel like a luxury sometimes, especially when you have a lot of things going on. During a flare-up you have to consciously avoid stressful situations and create the time to properly rest. Excessive stress doesn’t only increase your chances of having a flare-up in the first place, it can also worsen your symptoms by promoting inflammation.
So, as a rule of thumb, aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. It may also be helpful to take short naps during the day. Apart from sleep, you can also engage in relaxing activities like reading a book, watching TV or meditating, to keep your stress level as low as possible. This will promote your recovery process.
As important as it is to avoid physical stress during a flare-up, it is just as beneficial to regularly engage in gentle exercise. Doing the right exercises, such as a brisk walk or yoga, can help increase your energy level and reduce fatigue. Exercise is also great for your mental health as it can improve your mood.
Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program or routine. They will help evaluate your level of strength and mobility and help you design a program that will bring you maximum benefit, without hurting you.
Get Emotional Support
Lupus doesn’t just take a toll on your body, it can also impact you emotionally. It is quite common for people with lupus to feel emotionally drained during a flare-up because of the increased symptoms they may be experiencing, as well as stress from feeling inhibited in their day-to-day life. So, it is very important to have a support system you can lean on during a flare-up so that your mind and body can heal quickly.
There are various ways to get emotional support during your flare-up. You can reach out to family and friends, local lupus support groups, or even a licensed counselor or therapist. Talking to people about what you’re going through can help you find the much-needed comfort during these times.
Avoid Ultraviolet Rays
As a lupus patient, the sun is not your friend, so you need to stay out of it as much as you can. The sun releases ultraviolet (UV) rays that are harmful to your skin and can trigger or worsen skin rashes. So, if you must be in the sun, always wear sunscreen with a minimum rating of SPF 50, protective clothing, and wide-brimmed hats.
But the sun isn’t the only source of UV rays – fluorescent and halogen light bulbs release them too. So, if you can, you should consider switching your halogen and fluorescent bulbs for incandescent bulbs. If that’s not an option, you can cover your bulbs with UV light shields that have a minimum nanometer reading of 380.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
There’s currently no specific recommended diet for lupus patients. But you can never go wrong with maintaining a healthy diet and eating patterns. So, as a general rule of thumb, try to maintain a balanced diet containing lots of whole foods, such as grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as lean meats and fish, especially during flare-ups.
More specifically, it may be beneficial to target certain nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce depression in lupus patients. Also, sustaining adequate Vitamin D levels has been linked to a reduction in the risk of renal disease in lupus patients. Because lupus patients are not often in the sun, which is an important source of Vitamin D, it’s important to eat Vitamin D-rich foods and take Vitamin D supplements, with approval from your provider, in order to replenish the amount of Vitamin D in the body.
Crush Your Next Flare-Up
As a lupus patient, you will likely experience intermittent flare-ups. But here’s the good news — you don’t have to be miserable when it happens. With the right combination of rest, exercise, emotional support, a healthy diet and UV protection, you’ll be well positioned to crush your next flare-up!