Prevention

Lupus is not understood well enough to be prevented, but when the disease develops, quality of life can be improved through flare prevention. The warning signs of an impending flare include increased fatigue, pain, rash, fever, abdominal discomfort, headache and dizziness. Early recognition of warning signs and good communication with a doctor can help individuals with lupus remain active, experience less pain and reduce medical visits.

Lifestyle Changes

For most people with lupus, making positive lifestyle changes allow them to better manage the disease and improve their quality of life. Preventive measures include:

  • Regular exercise that helps prevent muscle weakness and fatigue.
  • Immunizations to protect against specific infections.
  • Lifestyle adjustments, such as getting plenty of rest, reducing stress, eating a balanced diet and quitting smoking.
  • Avoiding excessive sun exposure or regularly applying sunscreens in order to reduce rashes and flares in lupus.

Prevention of complications during pregnancy

While most infants born to mothers with lupus are healthy, pregnant mothers with SLE should remain under a doctor’s care until delivery. Neonatal lupus is rare, but identification of mothers at highest risk for complications allows for prompt treatment before or after birth. In addition, SLE can flare during pregnancy and proper treatment can maintain the health of the mother for longer. Women pregnant and known to have the antibodies for anti-Ro (SSA) or anti-La (SSB) should have echocardiograms during the 16th and 30th weeks of pregnancy to monitor the health of the heart and surrounding vasculature.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies:

A comprehensive treatment plan for lupus may include a range of complementary and alternative therapies.

Nutrition

  • Eliminate all suspected allergens, including dairy, wheat (gluten), soy, chocolate, eggs, corn, and preservatives; avoid alfalfa sprouts. Your provider may want to test for food sensitivities.
  • A modified fast of five to seven days at two-week intervals may be helpful, especially during flare-ups. A modified fast can consist of eating fruits, vegetables, and fish or vegetable protein.
  • Avoid coffee, alcohol, and smoking.
  • Minimize red meat and saturated fats to decrease inflammation.

Potentially beneficial nutrient supplements include the following:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids such as flaxseed and fish oils decrease inflammation.
  • Beta-carotene (50 mg three times a day), although some controversy exists about the use of vitamin A. Check with your health care provider before using.
  • Vitamin B12 (1,000 mcg via injection once or twice a week) to heal lesions.
  • Vitamin E (800 IU per day).
  • Hydrochloric acid to decrease symptoms.
  • DHEA (start at 5 mg three times a day and work up to 100 mg per day) to reduce symptoms in mild to moderate lupus, with incremental benefits over three to twelve months. Note: Tryptophan should be avoided in patients with SLE-type lupus.
  • Melatonin (20 mg before bed) has been shown to be helpful in many autoimmune diseases. Take a lower dose if drowsiness occurs.
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) (3,000 mg twice a day) helps prevent joint and connective tissue breakdown.
  • Iron can increase inflammation. Avoid it unless you are anemic (have low red blood cells).

Herbs

Herbs may be useful for treating lupus, as well as secondary symptoms, such as depression and insomnia.

  • Mix dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
  • Yellowdock (Rumex crispus)
  • Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Garlic (Allium sativum) equal parts in a tea, 1 cup three times daily.

Homeopathy

An experienced homeopath can prescribe a regimen for treating lupus that is designed especially for you. Some of the most common acute remedies are listed below.

  • Arsenicum album for restless exhaustion
  • Calcarea carbonica for overworked, overwhelmed people with poor stamina and low back pain
  • Nux vomica for irritability with constipation and sharp, cramp-like pains
  • Tuberculinum for repeated chest infections and joint pain with swollen glands

Acute dose is three to five pellets of 12X to 30C every one to four hours until symptoms are relieved.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture may help balance immune response during remissions, and alleviate flare-ups.

Drug Therapy

Medications commonly used to treat lupus, include:

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) — These drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, may relieve muscle and joint pain as well as arthritis.
  • Acetaminophen — This is the main ingredient in Tylenol, a mild pain reliever.
  • Corticosteroids — Synthetically produced corticosteroids, such as Prednisone, are used to reduce inflammation and suppress activity of the immune system.
  • Antimalarials — These drugs, such as Plaquenil, help with symptoms of lupus and also may prevent major flares in other organs.
  • Immunomodulating Drugs — These drugs, such as Imuran, Cellcept, Methotrexate and Cytoxan, suppress the immune system. They may allow a reduction in the dose of corticosteroids.

Sources: Wikipedia, UCSF Health

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