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Understanding Lupus: Causes, Symptoms, Natural Treatments

Despite the fact that approximately five million people in the world are affected by lupus and more than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually, this is still an often-misunderstood disease. Lupus is one of the many autoimmune diseases that exist in the human body, and this is a chronic condition that often lasts for many years. So for May (Lupus Awareness Month), we’re taking a look at what lupus is, what causes it, what symptoms it presents, and natural ways to approach lupus treatment.

Photo credit: Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson

Causes of Lupus

As an autoimmune disease, lupus occurs when a person’s immune system attacks healthy bodily tissues. It is believed that lupus has connections to both heredity and the external environment; however, the definitive cause of lupus is still unknown. Women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are most likely to have lupus, and it also appears to be more prevalent in African-Americans and Asian-Americans than other races. Lupus can be triggered by blood pressure medications, antibiotics, infections, and even prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Lupus Symptoms

Lupus symptoms can develop quickly or slowly, depending on the person. Lupus causes flare-ups in which symptoms are more present and problematic at some times than others. One of the most unique and distinguishing symptoms of lupus are a rash on the face that spreads across both cheeks. This rash may resemble the shape of a butterfly in some people. Other common symptoms of lupus include fever, fatigue, joint pain, and skin lesions. Individuals with lupus may also notice dry eyes, chest pain, and headaches.

Diagnosing Lupus

Lupus is often a difficult condition to diagnose since each case of lupus is unique. It is often mistaken for other conditions and diagnosed incorrectly by medical professionals as well. It is recommended to see a doctor if unexplained rashes appear on the skin or if you have continuous fevers, fatigue, or aching. Blood and urine tests can suggest if lupus may be to blame for a person’s symptoms, although there is no specific lupus test. If lupus remains untreated in the body, it is possible that other parts of the body can become inflamed too, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and blood vessels.

Photo credit: Air Combat Command

Treatments for Lupus

Many people take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, to treat lupus symptoms, as well as immune system suppressing drugs and corticosteroids that fight inflammation. However, there are numerous lifestyle changes and healthy habits that can make living with lupus more manageable and help symptoms subside without the use of drugs.

Adding turmeric, ginger, apple cider vinegar, flax seeds, and coconut oil are positive ways to help control lupus naturally because of these foods’ anti-inflammatory and immunity benefits. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, are recommended for lupus patients as well as cucumbers, melons, nuts, and seeds. Green tea and other types of herbal tea have shown promise in helping people with lupus reduce their symptoms, and some doctors recommend getting more vitamin D through food or supplementation. Otherwise, exercising regularly, avoiding cigarettes, and wearing sunscreen can help prevent flare-ups once a condition of lupus is diagnosed and monitored on a regular basis.

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