WHAT IS LUPUS?
Lupus, also known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect various parts of the body. It is characterized by an overactive immune system that mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and organs, leading to inflammation and damage. Lupus can manifest in a wide range of symptoms and can vary in severity from mild to life-threatening.
The exact cause of lupus is unknown, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors. It predominantly affects women, particularly those of childbearing age, although it can occur in both men and women of any age.
The signs and symptoms of lupus can vary greatly among individuals, and they may come and go in episodes known as flares. Common symptoms include:
- Fatigue: Persistent exhaustion and lack of energy.
- Joint and muscle pain: Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling are common, often resembling arthritis.
- Skin rashes: A characteristic butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose (malar rash) may appear. Other skin rashes and sensitivity to sunlight can also occur.
- Photosensitivity: Increased sensitivity to sunlight, which may trigger or worsen symptoms.
- Fever: Unexplained, prolonged fever.
- Organ involvement: Lupus can affect various organs and systems, including the kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, blood cells, and joints. This can lead to complications such as kidney damage, cardiovascular problems, lung inflammation, neurological disorders, and blood disorders.
- Raynaud's phenomenon: Fingers and toes may turn white or blue in response to cold or stress due to restricted blood flow.
- Mouth and nose ulcers: Sores or ulcers may develop in the mouth or nose.
Diagnosing lupus can be challenging because its symptoms can mimic those of other conditions. Physicians often rely on a combination of symptoms, physical examinations, blood tests (such as antinuclear antibody test and other specific autoantibody tests), and sometimes, biopsies of affected tissues to make a diagnosis.
Lupus is a chronic condition without a cure, but treatment aims to manage symptoms, control inflammation, and prevent flare-ups. Treatment plans are individualized and may include medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and antimalarial drugs. Lifestyle modifications, including sun protection, regular exercise, and stress management, can also help manage the disease. Many natural compounds are effective in management lupus, along with the conventional medications listed above.
With proper medical care and management, many people with lupus are able to lead fulfilling lives. Regular follow-up with healthcare professionals is crucial to monitor the disease, manage symptoms, and prevent complications.
WHO SHOULD I SEE AT ABSOLUTE HEALTH AND WELLNESS?
At Absolute Health & Wellness, we recommend starting with the Naturopath. Naturopaths focus on natural therapies and approaches to promote healing and overall wellness.
Lupus is a complex autoimmune disease and we recommend a comprehensive medical management.
HOW WE COMMONLY TREAT LUPUS
- Supplements (Herbs, Vitamins, Minerals): focusing on immune modulation and reducing inflammation, common supplements used in management of lupus include omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3, anti-inflammatories and other anti-oxidants. There are many more things we may include based on your specific case
- Dietary Recommendations: our diet and gut have huge roles to play in immune function, inflammation and other processes involved in lupus
- Lifestyle and Behavior Modification: the things we do everyday such as diet/gut health, exercise and sleep have huge impacts on our health, including our immune system
- Acupuncture: for pain management, circulation and other benefits in autoimmune disease, acupuncture may be recommended.
- Physical Medicine: when there is joint involvement, muscular pains or any neurological involvement, our team of physios, chiros, osteos and massage therapists can have roles to play in assessment and treatment.
Every person is different. Even two people with lupus can present differently, so we always take an individualized approach to treating your autoimmune disease.