Lupus is an autoimmune disease, most commonly affecting your skin, joints, kidneys, blood cells, heart and lungs. Although the cause of lupus is unknown, it is believed that it may arise due to a combination of factors including genetics, environment, and hormonal imbalances. There are three main types of lupus: 1. discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), a less harmful form that only causes the typical lupus skin rash that appears across your cheeks and the bridge of your nose; 2. drug-induced lupus, which results from long-term use of certain prescription drugs, such as chlorpromazine (an antipsychotic), high blood pressure medications, tuberculosis drugs, heart medications, as well as arthritis drugs and ulcer drugs; 3. systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most common and also the most serious type of lupus, which causes inflammation and pain throughout your body, affecting your joints, muscles and skin.
Signs and symptoms of lupus vary greatly and may appear suddenly or gradually. You may also experience long periods of remission between episodes. Common symptoms include:
- joint pain, especially in your fingers, hands, wrists and knees
- abdominal pain
- nausea and/or vomiting
- mouth ulcers
- extreme fatigue
- hair loss
- depression or anxiety
- pericarditis (inflammation of the sac surrounding your heart)
- pleuritis (inflammation of the lining in your lungs)
- Raynaud's phenomenon
- skin rash
- photosensitivity (sensitivity to the sun that can aggravate or trigger the facial rash)
- kidney damage
- fever with no known cause
While there are many researchers looking into the possibility that lupus may at times be caused by environmental factors such as stress, food additives, breast implants, pesticides and more, the agreed upon risk factors for lupus include:
- family history
- gender (women are more likely to develop lupus than men)
- hormones (women often develop lupus after having been pregnant)
- recurrent infection with the Epstein-Barr virus
Once you have been diagnosed with lupus, the treatment you will receive will depend largely on the severity of your symptoms. There are several drugs that can help, but all carry potential side effects, so be sure to discuss them thoroughly with your doctor and/or pharmacist. Some of the drugs commonly prescribed include 1. anti-malarials (which can help with some of the skin and joint problems, but can affect your digestive system and your eyes); 2. corticosteroids (which help reduce inflammation and suppress an overactive immune system, but can cause osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and diabetes); 3. immunosuppressants (which can suppress your immune system but may cause anemia); and 4. non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs (which can help with your pain but may cause stomach ulcers).
Natural therapy is excellent for dealing with your symptoms of lupus and also the side effects of the drugs you may need to take. Nutritional counselling can help ensure that you are not lacking any nutrients that may be depleted, and a proper diet can help with your overall health. Acupuncture and TCM can help balance your immune system and manage some of your symptoms, including your pain, headaches, dizziness, depression and more.
Contact us for a FREE consultation on how natural therapy can help you manage lupus.
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