As a nurse for over 40 years, I have taken care of people diagnosed with lupus. I had a few co-workers who carried the lupus gene, and my two grandchildren’s father has two close relatives diagnosed with internal and external lupus. I have a close friend of many years whom her doctor diagnosed with lupus 10 years ago as well.
We are always on alert for lupus signs and symptoms in these children, even though the doctor has said their chances are slim at developing any diagnosis of lupus. Lupus is frequently difficult to diagnose. Lupus mimics many other illnesses and symptoms of lupus come and go. Symptoms of lupus are very fleeting. For this reason, many doctors dismiss the symptoms the patient complains of and labels the patient neurotic.
Lupus is an inflammatory disease that is chronic and never goes away. People affected by lupus show varying degrees of seriousness of the disease from hardly any symptoms to serious debilitating symptoms. No one person seems to display identical symptoms.
Doctors to this day do not know what causes lupus to appear. Medical researchers discovered that certain environmental substances and family genes cause Lupus to appear in some people.
Lupus known as an autoimmune disease, primarily targets is the skin, kidneys, blood and joints. Discoid, drug-induced and systemic lupus is the three varieties of this disease. Sometimes certain prescribed medications can cause lupus signs and symptoms. When the doctor stopped these medications on one of my patients, the lupus symptoms went away.
Ask the Doctor to Take a Second Look at Vague Symptoms
When a patient comes to see their doctor with symptoms vague nagging symptoms such as a low-grade fever that comes and goes, unknown skin rash, chronic fatigue, doctors now days are take a second look into possible lupus concerns as being the problem.
How My Friend’s Doctor Diagnosed Her with Lupus
My friend started to develop a rash on her face and neck. At first, the doctor felt that this was an allergic reaction as one might think. She frequently complained of feeling achy all over as though she had the flu. She ran a low-grade fever, about 99 degrees at intervals, and always complained of feeling tired or extremely fatigued, even after a good night’s sleep. The difficult part of diagnosing lupus is because symptoms do not always appear at the same time.
Testing for Lupus
After the rash continued and nothing seemed to help her, the doctor, as a last resort did a skin biopsy and a blood test called an ANA titer test. This test and along with the biopsy came back positive for lupus. Her doctor told her she had systemic lupus. Sometimes she sees no signs of lupus and feels well, she calls this a remission period of the lupus. Other times this rash appears once again and flares up on her face, neck and sometimes her arms and legs.
My Friend’s Treatment Plan for Lupus as Outlined by Her Doctor
- Avoid the sun, keep skin covered with clothing and sun block
- Moderate exercise plan
- Vaccinations and immunizations as needed such as the flu and pneumonia shot
- Rest and de-stress
- Online or group support for lupus
- No alcohol
- No smoking
- Regular medical checkups
- Take over the counter NAIDS for inflammation flare-ups and pain such as, Motrin, Naprosyn and aspirin or acetaminophen
- Steroids for acute flare-ups
- Eat well-balanced meals, decreasing consumption of red meats and more fish, chicken and turkey
My friend finds a decrease in her symptoms as soon as she started following her plan of care for lupus. She says the surprising thing is she feels so tired before walking but invigorated after she walks one half to one mile.
My Friend’s Struggles
- · Fatigue
- · Depression
- · Overall feelings of ill health every day
A Nurse’s Point of View
As a nurse, I experienced that the majority of people I have cared for with lupus carried a positive attitude and I believe that there is power in the mind and the way people think. I really feel that the mind can add a lot to the healing process of many patients.
As a nurse, like many doctors, I never label anyone a neurotic or complainer because their health complaints can very well have a serious undertone not yet diagnosed. No one knows or understands how another person is feeling physically or emotionally. If that person says they are painful, we can never second-guess their pain and we must take these complains at face value.
Common Sense Tips for Lupus Patients
There is a wealth of common sense tips for lupus patients or anyone. These tips can improve the health and wellness of all people, including the person with lupus. Live life to the fullest and do not waste one minute of each day.
Include many of the approaches in my friend’s treatment plan. This treatment plan is nothing special but is everything in the world to all people who desire a healthier lifestyle. Just eating incorporating two approaches, eating three well balanced meals every day and two snacks and adding a good exercise plan, individualized for each person does much to enhance emotional and physical health and wellness, including the lupus patient.