The average human body temperature is around 98.5°F, but many people run just above or below that mark. A temperature of 101°F is generally accepted as a fever. Many people with lupus experience reoccurring, low-grade temperatures that do not reach 101°. Such low-grade temperatures may signal oncoming illness or an approaching lupus flare. Fever can also signal inflammation or infection, so it is important to be aware of the patterns of your body and notify your physician of anything unusual.
Ninety percent of people with lupus will experience general fatigue and at some point, during the disease. Some people find a short 1 ½ hour afternoon nap to be effective in reducing fatigue. However, exceeding this time frame might lead to problems sleeping at night. If you feel that you are tired throughout most of the day and that fatigue prevents you from engaging in daily activities, speak to your Naturopathic doctor. Fatigue accompanied by pain at certain parts of your body may be a sign of a treatable condition called fibromyalgia. Other fatigue-inducing conditions, such as anemia, low thyroid, and depression, can also be treated. If you and your Naturopathic doctor decide that your fatigue is due solely to lupus, try to stay as active and mobile as possible during your daily routine. Often this can be difficult, but many people find that slightly pushing themselves to engage in light to moderate exercise increases their energy levels. However, “PLEASE” you should never push yourself beyond reasonable discomfort.
Many lupus patients experience joint stiffness, especially in the morning. People often find that taking warm showers helps to relieve this problem. If this habit does not offer comfort and joint stiffness prevents you from daily activity, be sure to speak with your doctor. He/she will examine you for any signs of joint swelling and can speak with you about supplements that may ease some of this pain and inflammation. Tenderness of a joint in known as arthralgia, and it is important that your Naturopathic doctor distinguish this from the arthritis (true swelling) that may accompany lupus.
If you experience a fever lasting a few days or fevers that come and go over the course of a few days, you should take your temperature twice daily and keep a record. Certain trends may alert your Naturopathic doctor to specific processes occurring in your body. In addition, a fever of 101°F or more should be given medical attention. If you are taking steroid medications such as prednisone, be alert for any sign of infection, since steroids can suppress your immune system while also masking symptoms of infection.
Increased lupus activity can sometimes cause weight loss, and certain medications can cause loss of appetite. No matter what the cause of your weight loss, you should speak to your Naturopathic doctor to ensure that the loss does not indicate a more serious condition. If you experience a loss of appetite, your Naturopathic doctor may suggest alternative medications or solutions to ease stomach discomfort.
Medications can cause weight gain. Therefore, it is especially important that you speak to your Naturopathic doctor about maintaining a balanced diet while taking these medications. You may need to reduce your calorie consumption; your Naturopathic doctor can refer you to a nutrition counselor if needed. Light to moderate exercise can also help you to maintain a healthy weight and cardiovascular system, while also boosting your mood.
Please remember that it is extremely easy to gain weight, especially when taking steroids, but it is much more difficult to lose it. It is particularly important that you try to achieve a healthy weight, because women with lupus between the ages of 35 and 44 are fifty times more likely to experience a heart attack than the average woman. In addition, maintaining a healthy weight helps to alleviate stress on your joints and keeps your organs working productively and efficiently.
As many as 10% of people with lupus may experience a condition called Sjogren’s syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the glands that produce tears and saliva do not function correctly. Sjogren’s can also affect people who do not have lupus. People with Sjogren’s often experience dryness of the eyes, mouth, and vagina. They may also feel a gritty or sandy sensation in their eyes, especially in the morning. This dryness occurs because the immune system has begun to attack the moisture-producing glands of the eyes and mouth (the lacrimal and parotid glands, respectively), resulting in decreased tears and saliva.
It is important that you speak to a Naturopathic doctor if you experience dryness of the eyes and mouth, since the medications for these conditions must be taken on a regular basis to prevent discomfort and permanent scarring (especially of the tear glands). Eye symptoms can be relieved by frequent use of Artificial Tears, and an eyedrop medication called Restasis is often used to prevent worsening of Sjogren’s.
Many people with lupus suffer from gastrointestinal problems, especially heartburn caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Peptic ulcers can also occur, often due to certain medications used in lupus treatment, including NSAIDs and steroids. Your Naturopathic doctor may also include an antacid or another form of GI medication (a proton-pump inhibitor, histamine 2 blocker, or promotility agent) in your treatment regimen. Antacids are effective when used to treat occasional symptoms, but you should try to avoid heartburn and acid indigestion altogether by eating smaller meals, remaining upright after eating, and cutting down on caffeine. If heartburn and acid reflux persist (e.g., for more than two weeks), you should speak with your Naturopathic doctor, because your heartburn symptoms could indicate a larger problem.
The thyroid is the gland in your neck associated with your metabolism. The processes by which your body makes use of energy. Autoimmune thyroid disease is common in lupus. It is believed that about 6% of people with lupus have hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and about 1% have hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). A thyroid gland that is functioning improperly can affect the function of organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys, liver, and skin. Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain, fatigue, depression, moodiness, and dry hair and skin. Hyperthyroidism can cause weight loss, heart palpitations, tremors, heat intolerance, and eventually lead to osteoporosis. Treatment for both underactive and overactive thyroid involves getting your body’s metabolism back to the normal rate.
Osteoporosis (bone thinning) occurs when the bones lose calcium and other minerals that help keep them strong and compact. This condition can lead to fractures, bone pain, and shorter stature. Everyone is at risk for osteoporosis as they age, but women experience a greater risk of the condition after menopause. Studies have shown that people with lupus are at an increased risk for osteoporosis due to both the inflammation they experience with the disease and the use of prednisone.
Your bones are constantly being remodeled in a process that removes old bone cells and deposits new ones. In people with osteoporosis, the bones lose minerals faster than they can be regenerated. Studies demonstrate that supplements can lower the chance of breaking other bones by 30-49%. Speak with a Naturopathic doctor for help.
FORMS OF LUPUS
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: (SLE) is the most familiar type of Lupus. It is a systemic condition. This means it has an impact throughout the body. The symptoms can range from mild to severe. It is more severe than other types of Lupus, such as Discoid Lupus, because it can affect any of the body’s organs or organ systems. It can cause inflammation in the skin, joints, lungs, kidneys, blood, heart, or a combination of these. This condition typically goes through cycles. At times of remission, the person will have no symptoms. During a flare-up, the disease is active, and symptoms reappear.
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus: (DLE) in Discoid Lupus Erythematous or cutaneous lupus the symptoms affect only the skin. A rash appears on the face, neck, and scalp. The raised areas may become thick and scaly, and scarring may result. The rash may last from several days to several years, and it may recur. DLE does not affect the internal organs, but around10 % of people with DLE will go on to develop SLE, according to Mayo Client. It is not clear, however, if these individuals already had SLE and just showed clinical signs on the skin or if there is a progression from DLE or SLE.
Subacute Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus: This refers to skin lesions that appear on parts of the body that are exposed to the sun. The lesions do not cause scarring.
Drug-Induced Lupus: In around 10% of people with SLE, symptoms occur because of a reaction to certain prescription drugs. According to Genetics Home Reference, some 80 drugs may cause the condition. These include some of the drugs that people use to treat seizures, hypertension, arrhythmia, tuberculosis (TB) and high blood pressure. They also include some thyroid medications, antibiotics, antifungals, and oral contraceptive pills.
Neonatal Lupus: Most babies born to mothers with SLE are healthy. However, around 1% of women with autoantibodies relating to Lupus will have a baby with Neonatal Lupus. The woman may have SLE, Sjogren’s Syndrome, or no disease symptoms at all.
Sjogren’s Syndrome: Sjogren’s is another autoimmune condition that often occurs with Lupus. Key symptoms include dry eyes and a dry mouth. At birth, babies with Neonatal Lupus may have a skin rash, liver problems, and low blood counts. Around 10 % of them will become anemic.
HOW DOES SOMEONE GET LUPUS? Is it contagious?
Lupus is not contagious. The causes of Lupus are not fully understood; scientists believe there are several factors that cause a person to acquire lupus. These include:
- Genetics: Several genes have been identified as possibly causing Lupus. It has also been established that family history Autoimmune Diseases may predispose a person to developing the disease.
- Environment: Scientists are looking at the link between Lupus and certain environmental factors such as UV exposure, stress, viruses, and toxins.
- Hormones: Lupus affects several women, children and few men, there is thought that hormones, particularly estrogen, might play a role in eliciting the disease. A person cannot transmit it sexually or in any other way to another person.
With Lupus being called “the great imitator” because its symptoms are often misdiagnosed. A helpful resource is the well-known Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins lupus Center. The clinics provide information and support for anyone affected by Lupus.
Lupus affects many aspects of a person’s life, work, school, finances, family, and other relationships. If you are coping with the impact of Lupus in these areas, you should also consider having a talk with a naturopathic doctor.
Think about yourself and take it seriously! Our responsibility to the Lupus community needs your help! Listen to your body, ask lots of question, and get involved by donating to the Love Life Lupus Foundation.
When making a diagnosis for Lupus it is like putting a jig saw puzzle together. After test after testing your diagnosis could take months or years. Often a doctor will say that lupus might be present but that the current symptoms are insufficient to signify a firm diagnosis. Rheumatologist are said to be the leading experts; however, Naturopathic doctors can diagnose and treat autoimmune diseases such as Lupus without all the harsh medications. Diagnosing Lupus is difficult because signs and symptoms vary considerably from person to person and overlap with those of many other disorders.
For every doctor you go to will need to conduct a thorough review of your current and past symptoms. Your medical records take time to retrieve leaving you to redundant laboratory tests, time, and money. Go to the Blog page and get more information on a Naturopathic doctor.
Other sets of criteria, known as disease activity indices, exist for the monitoring of lupus. These forms allow a physician examining a patient to check for the improvement or worsening of the disease. These forms include the BILAG (British Isles Lupus Assessment Group Index), SLEDAI (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index), SLAM (Systemic Lupus Activity Measure), ECLAM (European Consensus Lupus Activity Measurement), and the Lupus Activity Index (LAI). Sometimes these indices will show no signs of lupus, even when the patient feels badly. This is because some of the problems that occur in lupus, such as chronic fatigue and pain, are not tracked by the indices. Instead, these symptoms represent a co-occurring problem called fibromyalgia.
Other similar conditions
Since other diseases and conditions appear like lupus, adherence to classification can greatly contribute to an accurate diagnosis. However, the absence of four of these criteria does not necessarily exclude the possibility of lupus. When a physician makes the diagnosis of SLE, s/he must exclude the possibility of conditions with comparable symptoms, including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic sclerosis (scleroderma), vasculitis, dermatomyositis and arthritis caused by a drug or virus.
Coping and Support
If you have Lupus, you are likely to have a range of painful feelings about your condition, from fear to extreme frustration. The challenges of living with Lupus increase your risk of depression and related mental health problems, such as anxiety, stress, and low self-esteem. To help you cope with Lupus, try to:
- Learn all you can about Lupus.
- Gather support among your friends and family. Talk about lupus with your friends and family and explain ways they can help when you are having flares. Lupus can be frustrating for your loved ones because they usually cannot see it, and you may not appear sick. Family and friends cannot tell if you are having a good day or a bad day unless you tell them. Be open about what you are feeling so that your loved ones know what to expect.
- Take time for yourself: Cope with stress in your life by taking time for yourself. Use that time to read, meditate, listen to music, or write in a journal. Find activities that calm and renew you.
- Connect with others who have lupus: Talk to other people who have Lupus. You can connect with other people who have lupus through support groups in your community or through online message boards. Other people with lupus can offer unique support because they are facing many of the same obstacles and frustrations that you are facing.
A normal immune system produces B cells which make antibodies that destroy and control harmful substances, such as viruses, bacteria, and germs, as shown below.
An abnormal immune system for a person with Lupus, the immune system produces auto-reactive B-cells, which make a type of protein called autoantibodies. These autoantibodies attack your own body, leading to inflammation.
Although no one symptom qualifies someone as having lupus, certain clinical techniques can be used to narrow down the diagnosis. For example, a test for antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) in the blood is probably the first tool a physician will use. A positive ANA test does not necessarily mean that someone has lupus; in fact, one out of five normal women has a positive ANA. However, a negative ANA test greatly reduces the suspicion.
Using an outcomes-driven approach, naturopathic doctors focus on the root cause of disease to improve health and wellbeing. A Board-certified Naturopathic doctor (MD) is trained in functional medicine, which means they look at the big picture. Consider the combination of nutrition, lifestyle, cutting-edge technology, and diagnostic testing to deliver real life-changing results.
If your Naturopathic doctor suspects that lupus is affecting your lungs or heart, he or she may suggest: Chest X-ray. An image of your chest may reveal abnormal shadows that suggest fluid or inflammation in your lungs. Next, an Echocardiogram. This test uses sound waves to produce real-time images of your beating heart. It can check for problems with your valves and other portions of your heart. When it comes to Biopsy: Lupus can harm your kidneys in many ways, and treatments can vary, depending on the type of damage that occurs. In some cases, it is necessary to test a small sample of kidney tissue to determine what the best treatment might be. The sample can be obtained with a needle or through a small incision. Skin biopsy is sometimes performed to confirm a diagnosis of Lupus affecting the skin. Always talk with your Naturopathic doctor first.
Sometimes people with Lupus seek alternative or complementary medicine. Complementary and alternative treatments for Lupus. Talk with your Naturopathic doctor for more information.