Your doctor has put together a treatment plan that is designed
specifically for you and your lupus. This probably includes physical
and emotional rest, aggressive treatment of infections, good nutrition,
and avoidance of direct sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet
light. Your doctor may have also prescribed medications to control
disease symptoms and other health problems that you might have.
One of the most important ways you can help yourself is to understand
your treatment plan and the things you need to do to keep your disease
Sometimes, despite the treatment plan and your efforts, you may
experience a lupus flare. A flare is a worsening of symptoms that
signals increased disease activity. A variety of factors can cause
a flare, and you should contact your doctor immediately if you suspect
a flare is developing. The doctor will evaluate your condition and
take steps to control the seriousness of the flare. He or she will
also reevaluate your overall treatment plan and make any needed
Warning Signs of a Flare
- increased fatigue
- a new or higher fever
- increased pain
- development or worsening
of a rash
- upset stomach
- headache or dizziness
- development of symptoms
you haven't had before
What Triggers a Flare?
A flare can be triggered by one factor or a combination of factors.
The most common are:
- overwork or not enough
- stress or an emotional
- exposure to sunlight or
other sources of ultraviolet light
- injuries or surgery
- pregnancy or the time right
after the baby's birth (the postpartum period)
- sudden stopping of medications
- sensitivities or allergies
to items that you put on your skin, such as hair dye, hair permanent
solution, makeup, and skin creams
- certain prescription drugs
- over-the-counter medications,
such as cough syrup or laxatives
Caring for Yourself
Learn to recognize the
warning signals of a flare and tell your doctor about them.
Maintain your physical
health. Be sure to visit your doctor regularly, even if you are
feeling well. Schedule regular dental, eye, and gynecological exams.
Get enough sleep and rest.
Be flexible with your schedule of daily activities.
Try to limit your stress.
Because this may be hard to do at times, consider developing a plan
for dealing with potentially stressful situations. Develop a support
system that includes family, friends, medical or nursing professionals,
community organizations, and support groups. Remember, it helps
to talk to someone when you're feeling stressed.
Participate in a well-planned
exercise program to help you maintain physical fitness and reduce
Eat a healthy diet.
Limit your exposure to
the sun and other sources of ultraviolet light, such as fluorescent
or halogen lights.
Tell your doctor right
away about any injury, illness, or infection or if you do not feel
well in any way.
Delay elective surgery
(including dental surgery and teeth pulling) until your lupus is
under control or in remission.
Lupus may cause problems
for a pregnant woman and her baby. As a result, women with lupus
should carefully plan any pregnancy. Do not stop using your method
of birth control until you have discussed the possibility of pregnancy
with your doctor and he or she has determined that you are healthy
enough to become pregnant.
Talk with your doctor
before you stop taking any prescribed medications.
Check with your doctor
or nurse before taking any over-the-counter medications.
Be careful when trying
any over-the-counter preparations used on your skin or scalp. First,
determine whether you have a sensitivity or an allergy to it. Put
a small amount of the preparation on the inside of your forearm
or on the back of your ear. If any redness, rash, raised areas,
itching, or pain develops, do not use the preparation.
Be aware that certain
prescription drugs may trigger a flare. Tell any doctor, nurse,
or health care professional you visit that you have lupus. Also
tell your lupus doctor or nurse if any new medications have been
prescribed for you.
Be sure to check with
your lupus doctor before receiving any immunization. Routine immunizations,
including those for the flu and pneumonia, are an important part
of maintaining your health, and you should get them if your doctor
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and