Living With Lupus

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, about 1.5 million women, men, and children in the US have the autoimmune disease lupus. You’re more likely to get lupus if you’re:

Kimberly Bolling, MD, a compassionate and highly skilled internist in Bowie, Maryland, knows that when you have lupus, statistics aren’t much comfort. You want practical advice on how to manage your health so that you minimize your risk for flares. You also want effective medication to keep you comfortable when you’re suffering from symptoms.

Here, she offers a few ways you can live with lupus and still feel happy, healthy, and in control:

Have more fun

Even though nobody knows what causes lupus, researchers have noticed that stress makes the disease worse. Stress is a normal part of life, so learning how to recognize stress and manage it before you feel overwhelmed is an important part of living with lupus. When you feel stressed, you can try deep-breathing exercises or meditation until you calm down.

Another way to raise your mood and alleviate stress is through daily exercise and movement. If you find yourself balking at that suggestion, just remember how much fun you had when you were a kid, running around the playground. Bring back that sense of adventure and enjoyment to activities such as:

Joining a class at a community center or a gym or finding a buddy to walk or run with can make exercise fun again. Exercise actually releases endorphins, a type of hormone that boosts your mood and makes you feel good. 

The benefits are far greater than stress management: A good exercise program strengthens your muscles and cardiovascular system, and can help you lose or maintain weight. If you haven’t exercised in awhile or are afraid it’ll hurt, we’ll help you find the perfect, gradual program for your activity level and health status.

Just be sure to avoid the hottest, brightest parts of the day when exercising outdoors. Always wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more, too, because sunlight can trigger lupus symptoms.

Get more rest

In today’s 24/7 world, it’s tempting to work all the time — checking your phone for emails and texts, lining up the next gig or client — and you may feel guilty when you hit a lull. But when you have lupus, your body needs a full 7-9 hours of sleep per night. You’ll also feel better and have more energy when you get enough rest. 

The National Sleep Foundation offers plenty of tips for increasing your “sleep hygiene” so you’re more likely to fall asleep and stay asleep. Here are a few:

If you wake up frequently or snore, Dr. Bolling may evaluate you for sleep apnea. If you have other sleep difficulties, including falling asleep or staying asleep, we can refer you to a sleep clinic or make other recommendations to help you get a good night’s rest.

Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits

A healthy diet is key to a healthy body, whether you have lupus or not.  There is no “lupus diet,” but if you concentrate on eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods and sugar, you’ll help improve your overall health. 

Dr. Bolling might also want you to keep a food diary so you can look back and figure out what you ate before your lupus symptoms arose. Some people with lupus have symptoms when they eat vegetables and fruits in the nightshade category, such as tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and peppers.

Changing your diet may involve all kinds of other changes, including the ways you interact with family and friends. When you have a challenge with adding fresh foods to your diet and finding the best plan for you, we can help by designing a customized weight loss or weight management program and giving you ongoing support.

Remember, you’re not alone

Having lupus may make you feel cut off from family and friends who don’t have to deal with the disease. But Dr. Bolling and all of us at her office consider you part of our wellness team. If you have flares or have trouble getting the right nutrients, Dr. Bolling may recommend:

Dr. Bolling bases her treatment recommendations on your unique case and your particular symptoms. To get help living with lupus, call us today, send us a message here on our website, or use the convenient online form to request an appointment

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