Lupus is an autoimmune disease wich affects even 1.5 million Americans. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, nine out of every 10 people affected with this condition are women.
“It’s a disability that you cannot describe because the whole thing about lupus is it’s so unpredictable,”Mallory Dixon, 29, told Medical Daily.
Dixon also explains that this condition cannot be predicted since it strikes at any age and with little racial or ethnic preference. The symptom severity varies from person to person, but also over a person’s personal lifespan which she has experienced first-hand. When she was at the age of 17, her doctor identified rheumatoid arthritis, but she continued to experience symptoms that could not be explained.
“One of my doctors told my parent I might need to see a therapist,” she said.
Six years later of her initial diagnosis, when the doctor added up her many symptoms, he finally digosed lupus. After 2 years, she started feeling miserable and it was difficult to breathe for her so she went again to the hospital.
“The night before, I was afraid to go to sleep,” Dixon said. “I tried to downplay the pain, but I had the feeling I was dying.”
Sadly, she technically died and then was brought back to life which left her in the hospital for 86 days. This was the hardest period in her life as she fell into a coma, spent time on ventilator, received chemotherapy and was treated with dialysis.
All of this happened because her kidneys were shutting down due to the lupus.
“They do think with early prevention we can keep lupus from spreading to organs like the kidneys or in some cases, a patient’s heart or brain,” Dixon said.
After her horrible experience, she thought that it would be great to educate young women about what to look for when it comes to lupus.
What are the signs?
Sara stothers, RN, the national nurse health educator from the Lupus Foundation of America states that the very first symptom is debilitating fatigue. She lists the most common symptoms and you can see them bellow:
- Extreme tiredness
- Swelling in the feet, legs, hands, and/or around eyes
- Painful or swollen joints
- Pain in chest when breathing deeply
- Sun or light sensitivity
- Fingers turning white and/or blue when cold
- Mouth or nose ulcers
- Hair loss
- Abnormal blood clotting
- A butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose (in earlier times this common rash reminded physicians of a wolf’s bite hence the name “lupus,” Latin for “wolf”)
She syas that eventhough some people look completely normal, they are actually in excrutiating pain and they feel awful, the smallest task is impossible for them since the disease is so debilitating and often isolating.
The symptoms of this condition are often similar to some other health conditions like muscle, bone, heart and lung disease as well as rheumathoid arthritis, lyme disease, blood disorders, thyroid problems, diabetes and fibromylagia. As a result, lupus is also known as “the great imitator”.
According to Dixon, lupus need to be diagnosed as early as possible in order to avoid a dramatic flair-up like the one that nearly killed her.
The most common autoimmune diseases are, pernicious anemia, vitiligo, scleroderma, psoriasis, Hashimoto’s disease, Addison’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, reactive arthritis, celiac disease, Graves’ disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, and type 1 diabetes. In each one of these disorders, the immune system mistakenly attacks bodily tissues as if they were germs, viruses, or other foreign invaders.
Cause and Treatment
Stothers says that there is a genetic compononet to lupus and she explains that carrying the gene does not mean a person will develop lupus as environment and hormones play a role as well.
According to scientists, estrogen is particularly involved due to the higher incidence among women.
“It is predominately diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 44,” said Stothers, who added “and that’s the time when women are most fertile.” Actually, numerous women are first diagnosed while pregnant or after giving birth since then their hormones are in flux. However, there are also patients in their 70s and 80s who are affected by lupus, so this is why it is so unpredictble.
Here are some great diet tips on foods that can help with managing symptoms:
Eventhough it is difficult to establish one particular diet for people with this condition, doctors recomment a diet composed of about 50% carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 30% fat.
The Importance of Diet for Those With Lupus
As we all know, diet is the most important thing when it comes to our health, especially for people with lupus.
Diet plays a much bigger role in our health than we like to give it credit for. This is especially true for people with lupus. Doctors tend to prescribe lupus patients with steroid medications such as prednisone, prednisolone and dexamethasone which actually increase your cholesterol, blood sugar levels and triglyceride. As a result, it is very important that your diet does not accelerate these symptoms, so here are some foods to keep yout lupus in check
Garlic contains allicin, ajoene and thiosulfinates which are very important substances that give your immune system a boost. This is the reason why garlic is not preferable food for people with lupus since they already have overactive immune system. Avoid cooking with garlic and adding garlic to food.
Alfalfa sprouts contain an amino acid called L-canavanine that increases inflammation in people with lupus by stimulating their immune systems.
Foods High in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium
Make sure to avoid beef, fried foods and other high saturated fat foods, sodium and cholesterol in order to avoid increasing your riks of chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease.
When you a lupus patient, you need to take medications like Tylenol, corticosterois, warfarin and many others, so in combination with alcohol it can be extremely harmful to your liver and stomach. If you are taking methotrexate, consuming alcohol is never allowed.
Here’s what you can add to your diet to help your lupus:
If you are a lupus patient, carbohydrates are you best choice since they give you energy. Try to always read the nutrition facts on whole grains before buying them and opt for gluten-free products.
According to Stothers, while lupus patients monitor their own symptoms, they can live long, productive and happy lives. For instance, Dixon achieved happy life, and eventhough she had to give up her high-powered fashion career in New York City, she still continues to work from home while advocating for the Lupus Foundation. Naturally, self-awareness can be challenging in a busy world, a busy life.