Chronic Inflammatory Disease: Lupus
Autoimmune Disease: An Overview
An autoimmune disease is classified as a disease in which the body can not effectively recognize its own cells, causing an overactive immune response against tissues and substances normally produced or present in the body. This overactive response is responsible for chronic inflammation and damage to the surrounding tissues. There are over forty human diseases caused by autoimmune diseases. Lupus is an autoimmune disease.
Lupus: SLE and DLE
Technically, there are two types of Lupus. The first is known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and is capable of affecting any part of the body, but is typically associated with the joints, blood vessels, heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, skin, and nervous system. The second is known as discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE). Discoid lupus is mainly associated with skin damaged due to overexposure to sunlight. Systemic lupus is the more serious condition.
There has been no accurate determination for the exact causes of lupus. However, there is a strong correlation between specific conditions that seem to increase overall risk for development of the disease. Currently, research suggests that there is no one cause for the disease, but rather it is a combination of hormonal, genetic, and immune system factors. Genetically and hormonally, women of European descent are more likely to develop lupus. Environmentally, overexposure to sunlight, severe stress, certain medications, and bacterial or viral infections have been associated with an increased overall risk for developing lupus. Women are at higher risk particularly during high estrogen levels; due to estrogen replacement therapy, pregnancy, and contraceptive use.
Lupus: Treatment Options
Currently, there is no cure for lupus. However, there are treatment options available from your physician for the regulation and control of lupus signs and symptoms. The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAID's), antimalarial drugs, and corticosteroids are often prescribed by physicians for the treatment of lupus. However, the use of such prescriptions should be discussed with your physician, as all medications are subject to certain side effects.
Lupus: Natural Treatment Options
While there is no cure for lupus and many medical options available, there are also many natural treatment options for the lupus that involve self care.
- Regular Physical Activity: Not only can exercise help promote recovery from lupus flares, but also fights depression, promotes heart health, and improves overall general health. It is generally suggested that 30 minutes of exercise be accomplished the majority of days of the week, however, it is ok to not feel up to exercising sometimes. Work at your own pace.
- Healthy Diet: It has been correlated that a healthy diet including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can decrease overall signs and symptoms. There are typically certain foods that seem to worsen the signs and symptoms of lupus, these should be avoided.
- Adequate Rest: One of the symptoms of lupus is a consistent and persistent fatigue. It is common for individuals with lupus to require a consistent night sleep ranging from 8-10 hours in addition to naps throughout the day.
- Sun Protection: One of the triggers of lupus is exposure to ultraviolet light. Due to this fact, practice sun protection. Wearing protective clothing and sunscreens with a sun protective factor (SPF) of at least 15 is recommended. It is also recommended that tanning booths be avoided.
- Quit Smoking: Smoking can actually worsen signs and symptoms of lupus, in addition to creating risk of cardiovascular disease development to the blood vessels and heart.