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House Call: Lupus Part 2

Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 6:09 PM EDT
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Lupus is a lifelong disease that can affect many parts of your life. However, many with lupus live long, healthy lives. You can take steps to control your symptoms, prevent lupus flares, and cope with the challenges of lupus. Joining us for part two of our series concerning lupus is Aaradhana Kaul, MD, rheumatologist with UHC Rheumatology. Doctor, welcome to House Call.

Dr. Kaul: It is my pleasure to join you this evening.

1). Since lupus affect young reproductive females, can it have an impact on pregnancy and the fetus?

Pregnancy is not an impossibility and chances of a successful pregnancy depends on proper planning such as when lupus is in remission. That being said, lupus does increase risk for prematurity, fetal loss, preeclampsia or pregnancy induced hypertension, neonatal lupus and growth retardation. Neonatal lupus occurs when certain antibody or proteins from mother transfer to baby in utero, which can cause skin rash, liver problems or heart block. Thus, pregnant lupus patients are closely monitored by high risk OB and rheumatologist.

2.) If you have lupus, what can you do to control your symptoms?

  • It is important to see your doctors regularly and follow your treatment plan
  • Learn how to tell that a flare is coming.
  • Avoid excess sun exposure as sunlight can cause serious flares. When outdoors, it is imperative to wear protective clothing and use sunscreen
  • Build a support system made up of people you trust and can go to for help.
  • Lupus can cause clogging of arteries leading to heart attack so it is important to reduce risk factors for heart disease such as reducing stress by setting realistic goals, no smoking and staying active with healthy diet and moderate exercise.

Despite your best efforts to follow your treatment plan and taking good care of yourself, you may have times when your lupus symptoms are worse. Talk to your doctor or nurse about ways to relieve symptoms when this happens.

3). Last week we touched on flares, can you provide even more details concerning these and what are some of the triggers?

Sure, the times when your symptoms get worse and you feel sick are called flares. Flares can come and go and vary in severity. Flare symptoms are varied and can include fever, painful and swollen joints, rashes, mouth sores, leg swelling, heart or kidney inflammation. Sometimes flares happen without clear symptoms and are seen only with laboratory tests.

Common triggers for lupus flares includes:

  • UV light from the sun
  • Sulfa drugs
  • Emotional stress
  • Infection
  • Injury
  • Stopping your lupus medicines

4). Should I change what I eat due to having lupus?

There is no special diet for lupus. However, it is best to avoid certain food groups such as alfalfa as it has been associated with lupus flares. Lupus patients should also be careful about adding herbs, dietary supplements or vitamins to their diet as they may interact with lupus medications. In general, eating a well-balanced, nutritious and varied diet that contains fruits, vegetables, whole grains and moderate amounts of meat, poultry and fish is recommended.

You may have to make changes to what you eat based on your symptoms or treatment plan. Ask your doctor if you need to eat special foods or limit other foods due to lupus.

If you would like more information on lupus or to schedule an appointment, please contact UHC Rheumatology, located on the UHC Campus, by calling 681-342-3490 or you can go to our website at www.wvrheumatology.com.

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