The underlying cause of lupus isn’t entirely clear. The question of how to prevent lupus disease flare-ups, however, can be answered definitively: keep the body in good overall health, and learn effective ways to deal with stress. Understanding flares and their causes is a good way to begin.
A “lupus flare” is a sudden increase in symptoms after a period of remission. Photosensitivity – an extreme reaction to sunlight – is a very common trigger for lupus flares. Medications can bring on an increase in lupus symptoms, as can an extended period of emotional stress. Smoking is almost guaranteed to bring on flares.
The signs a flare is coming are much like the initial indicators of the disease: fever, joint pain, headache, dizziness, rashes and stomach problems. Although it is not always possible to prevent lupus flares entirely, if the patient is in good physical health while in remission, this lessens the chances of flare-up and helps control any symptoms that do reappear. For this reason, doctors recommend patients get regular check-ups and keep current on immunizations. But there are also lifestyle changes a lupus patient can make, to improve the odds the disease stays in remission.
How To Prevent Lupus Flares: Strengthening Mind And Body
Believe it or not, exercise is very important for lupus patients, even in the midst of fatigue and pain. While it is not necessary to push the body to its limits, regular, moderate exercise under a physician’s care lessons stress, improves mood and keeps the muscles, bones and various systems of the body in good working order. Exercises that are easy on the joints, such as swimming, yoga and tai chi, can strengthen the muscles and keep them limber, improve joint function and trigger the release of mood-regulating endorphins.
A healthy diet with lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains and lots of fruit and vegetables is also essential for continued good health – although lupus patients should generally avoid certain foods shown to cause flares, such as alfalfa and garlic. The traditional herbal cold remedy Echinacea, which stimulates immune system activity, should also be avoided.
In addition to regular physical activity, specific techniques to minimize stress, such as prayer, meditation, deep breathing exercises and regular talks with supportive family and friends are also recommended to prevent lupus flares. Stress can be rooted in overwork or exhaustion, or be the result of worry and a feeling that the disease is too overwhelmingly difficult to manage. It can come with depression and result in it. The important thing to realize is that stress is not something to ignore – it is a reasonable response to lupus, and not something the patient has to bear alone.
How to prevent lupus itself? Unfortunately, a way has not yet been found. That said, with gentle, consistent physical activity, a good support system, quality food and sufficient rest, consistent check-ups and careful stress management, lupus sufferers can keep their bodies in the best possible condition. Any medicines prescribed by the doctor will be more effective, and symptoms will be minimized. Self-care methods like these are the best defense against lupus flares, and the surest way to keep the disease itself in remission.