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How to Treat Lupus

Updated on August 20, 2012
I plan to be around a long to keep getting snuggles.
I plan to be around a long to keep getting snuggles. | Source

When you have Lupus or any auto-immune disorder, you have choices for treatment. You can visit a doctor, multiple doctors is the most likely scenario, or you can forgo the prescriptions and treat yourself.

Earlier this year I found out that I have – unofficially because the diagnosis didn't come from a rheumatologist – Lupus. Systemic lupus erythematosus is an auto-immune disease that attacks pretty much everything in your body. Females are far more likely to develop this disease, though there are men that suffer as well. There is another form of Lupus, Discoid Lupus, that affects the skin. In this article, Lupus refers to SLE, not Discoid.

I researched medications for this and another auto-immune disorder I have, Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). When all of my symptoms began, I thought I 'just' had RA due to the pain and swelling of my knuckles in first one, then the other hand. I had most of the classic RA symptoms, then the funny stuff started.

With RA you can have Lupus-like symptoms and with Lupus you can have RA-like symptoms. Confusing, much? Yeah, that's what I thought. The fun part begins when you begin having crazy symptoms that are unlike anything you've seen before.

For example, I'm one of those people that have a high pain tolerance and push myself regularly past the point of exhaustion. The day I was so fatigued that I could barely drag myself out of bed or even lift my fingers to type – I knew it was time to go to the emergency room. Most of the day and a ton of blood tests later, I was informed that I had not only RA, but it looked like a case of Lupus. The doctor had experience with the disease, plus there is a history of it in my family that I wasn't aware of until speaking with my grandmother. The doctor gave me strict orders to “get to a rheumatologist ASAP”, but a move to the country prevented that.

Currently, there are many drugs that are used to treat Lupus. Most are used to reduce pain, reduce other symptoms, and try to prevent flares. Until I need strong intervention, I chose to take a more natural route.

Here's What I Do

B Vitamin Complex – this combination of B vitamins supports a number of functions in the body. Deficiency in any of the B vitamins can cause serious problems in the body. People suffering from Lupus should invest in a good B vitamin complex. I prefer mine in liquid form, it absorbs better than pills or capsules.

Each of the B vitamins are important, but for those of us with this disease, four are essential when treating Lupus symptoms. B2 can help reduce our sensitivity to sunlight, B6 can help manage depression and dermatitis, and B12 is amazing when fighting fatigue. Don't forget B3 – niacin – which will help with 'Lupus fog', mental confusion and forgetfulness.



Potassium- This supplement can help reduce heart palpitations. Be careful, as lowered kidney function can cause high potassium levels. Until you know that you have low or high levels, do not take supplements. Eating a banana a day can keep your levels near normal.



Magnesium – This mineral is important for your teeth. While it helps other functions, when you have Lupus your oral health suffers. I'm working on losing my second tooth, wooo fun! Take a good multi-vitamin that has magnesium or try a single magnesium supplement.



Calcium – Bones and teeth. Women are already susceptible to bone loss, Lupus helps that along. Don't skimp on the calcium.



Kombucha – Believe it or not, Kombucha tea has helped me quite a bit. A friend sent me what we fondly called 'The Booger'. I didn't expect anything, but had always wanted to try Kombucha tea. I was surprised to find that during the time I drank the tea, I had hardly any joint paint and a significant jump in my energy levels. Part of this has to do with the B vitamins found in the tea. A word of warning: Kombucha that is not prepared correctly can make you very ill. Follow the directions and keep it clean. The best Kombucha is made with regular black tea.



PAIN:I use Aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen (Tylenol). I use generic brands. Take the lowest dosage that will kill your pain and rotate the type you take during the day. This will reduce the chance of overdosing on any of those. Overdosing on over the counter medication can be just as damaging to your body as overdosing on prescription medication.

Important

I'm not a doctor, nor do I proclaim to be some sort of alternative health guru. My own experience should not be your guide. My reluctance to use prescription medication is based on the fact that many of the drugs include death as a side effect.

I don't hate doctors. I just prefer to rely on the most natural treatments available until I absolutely must turn to medication. There is no cure for Lupus, alternative or in the health care system. Until there is a cure, take the best possible care of your body that you can.

A Final Note

Lupus for many is one of the 'invisible' diseases. No one can see your pain, your fatigue, or mental fog. They may ask you, "Wow, you have all sorts of symptoms" or "Wow, that sure is progressing fast" , while never understanding that it is a fight every single day just to do normal things.

In the space of a few months (January to August 2012) I've had significant increase of symptoms. Yes, this disease can move quickly. You can also experience extended remission. You may not have a rash on your face, you may not have any symptoms other than joint pain or occasional fatigue.

Then again, you could be like me. One day you're feeling awesome and the next day the roof of your mouth feels as if the soft bread you're eat is made of sandpaper. Opening jars becomes something you really do have your husband do. It isn't fun admitting that you need help...some of us refuse to admit that we can't do things and pay the price later.

While every day is a battle, each day that you make it through is a battle won. Regardless of the treatments you choose, you're refusing to quit. The only way you can lose to Lupus is to curl into a ball and die without fighting. I don't give up and I'm hoping that if you are fighting this, you will join me in beating this bi** called Lupus.

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    • profile image

      Karen & Scott Bensink 

      2 years ago

      are you still drinking Kombucha? A friend has just started making it and I was trying to do some research to see if it was a thumbs up or thumbs down for lupus sufferers...

    • Julie Fletcher profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie Fletcher 

      6 years ago

      Thank you! That's my youngest, Bekah. She's a cuddly monster baby.

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evie Lopez 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Thanks for the info. I'll have to look it up. It sounds interesting. A while back I found an article that showed SLE sufferers how to deal with the insensitive remarks people make but the author either removed it or the link was moved. Either way, it was very funny but at the same time very true. SLE is no laughing matter; it's a killer. Keep writing about it and educate others. Voted up and useful. By the way, love the baby in your photo :)

    • Julie Fletcher profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie Fletcher 

      6 years ago

      The story is by a woman with Lupus who is sitting with her friend in a diner. The friend asks what it is like to have Lupus, so the author hands her a handful of spoons. The spoons represent the woman's energy for the day. With each thing the friend has to do - shower, brush teeth, etc - she loses a spoon. You really need to kind of filter it, as the author sounds kind of like she feels sorry for herself. (I only found PDF files, the page moved that I read it on) It's called the Lupus Spoon Theory. Some people love it, some hate it, but if everyone is honest, the story does make a bit of sense on how we can lose energy fast.

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evie Lopez 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Unfortunately, this is one out of many insensitive remarks I have had to deal with in all the years of suffering from SLE. I'm like you, I push myself to the extreme, then I pay the price.

      No, I've never heard of the "Spoons story." Tell me :)

    • Julie Fletcher profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie Fletcher 

      6 years ago

      I'm glad you came by :-)

      I totally understand the 'push yourself' comment and why you'd be taken aback. No one gets it, not unless they experience it. I explained the Spoons story to a friend of mine. Have you heard of it?

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evie Lopez 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      You gave some very good advice on how you treat SLE naturally. I was diagnosed with SLE years ago. I also have secondary Sjogren's syndrome, another autoimmune disease. Right now I’m taking Plaquenil and Prednisone on and off for the swelling and pain along with OTC meds for pain.

      It’s true when you said “No one can see your pain, your fatigue, or mental fog.” Just the other day, I was talking to someone at work describing my SLE symptoms and she says “you really need to push yourself.” When she said that, I almost chocked. I had to hold my tongue back and calmly explain to her that just getting out of bed in the morning to come to work was an excruciating effort. I’m going to try a vitamin B complex as you mentioned, maybe it will help with the brain fog.

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