Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects multiple parts of the body, and results in the immune system attacking healthy tissues.1 Symptoms of lupus, including painful joints, red rash, and extreme fatigue, differ from person to person, and appear in the form of a flare. Although symptoms can worsen despite taking medication, certain steps for preventing lupus flares can be beneficial. The following tips include methods for preventing the onset of a flare1-3:
- Recognize an Oncoming Flare
Learning to identify when a flare is coming can assist you in taking steps to cope with the symptoms. Many people feel very tired; experience pain; develop a rash, fever, or headache; and experience stomach discomfort or dizziness right before they have a flare.
- Spend Less Time in the Sun
Because sunlight can cause rashes and flares, people with lupus should avoid the sun. When you know you will be in the sun, you should wear a hat and sunglasses, and apply a sunscreen with ≥70 SPF all over your body. In addition, you should limit the amount of time you spend in artificial indoor light.
- Relax and Make Time for Yourself
Having a chronic disease is stressful, and stress is a significant cause of flares. Use yoga and deep breathing exercises to help you de-stress, and make sure that you get enough rest—do not overexert yourself whether at work or home.
- Stick to Your Prevention and Treatment Plan
It is crucial that you stick to the realistic prevention and treatment plan created especially for you by your rheumatologist. Medication adherence is important, as is having an open dialogue with your physician and healthcare professionals about which over-the-counter or prescription drugs to avoid because of their risk for inducing flares.
- Keep a Healthy Diet
In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, you should avoid certain foods that have been shown to aggravate your condition and induce flares, such as garlic and alfalfa sprouts (the latter of which can increase inflammation in people with lupus).
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Living with lupus: health information basics for you and your family. www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/lupus/living_with_lupus.asp. Published July 2014. Accessed May 23, 2016.
- S.L.E. Lupus Foundation. Looking out for lupus flares. www.lupusny.org/about-lupus/newsletters/september-october-2006/looking-out-lupus-flares. Accessed May 23, 2016.
- Johns Hopkins Lupus Center. Things to avoid. www.hopkinslupus.org/lupus-info/lifestyle-additional-information/avoid. Accessed May 23, 2016.