Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects both men and women, but women are more prone to this disease. This disease can cause damage to a number of organs in the body because it causes widespread inflammation. Complications of it can cause a variety of problems but having lupus does not automatically lead to these problems. Being aware of these complications can, however, alert you to when you should speak to your doctor about concerns you may have.
What Are the Possible Complications of Lupus?
1. Flare up
Lupus flare ups are common which can make your lupus symptoms feel worse. Rashes, joint pain, inflammation, kidney problems and other organ issues can result from flare ups.
2. Heart disease
Individuals who have lupus tend to be at a higher risk of heart disease. The inflammation from lupus can cause the chest pain and put these individuals at a great risk of heart attack or artery disease.
3. Blood clots and anemia
Lupus can increase the likelihood of developing antiphospholipid antibody syndrome or APS. This condition increases the chance of blood clots developing and can cause miscarriages. These clots can occur in the lungs, brain, and legs, but can really occur anywhere in the body. Those with lupus are also more likely to be anemic.
4. Brain issues
Inflammation in the brain as a result of lupus can cause individuals to experience more headaches. Mental problems like difficulty concentrating, memory issues, meningitis, seizures and even comas are common concerns. Individuals with lupus may also experience more changes in their mood with an increase of irritability, anxiety, and depression.
5. Breathing complications
Some individuals with lupus will suffer from pleuritis which is a condition where inflammation occurs in the lining of the lungs. This inflammation can spread to the lungs and cause scarring which results in less oxygen being absorbed into the bloodstream.
6. Joint pain
One of the most common complications of lupus is inflammatory arthritis. This is noticeable in the mornings when you wake up with swelling or stiffness in the joints. This can be a very painful symptom but only in a rare number of cases will this type of arthritis causes deformation of in the joints of the hands.
7. Digestive issues
When the inflammation from lupus spreads to the digestive system, this can have a negative effect on organs like the liver and pancreas. Aside from the effects of the inflammation, lupus can cause protein to leak from the gut or protein-losing enteropathy. This condition can cause diarrhea and reduce the nutrients that the body absorbs.
8. Kidney issues
Kidney issues that are caused by lupus will often show no symptoms. Some individuals may notice swelling of the legs or ankles from fluid retention. Typically the first sign of a kidney issue is not detected until a urinalysis.
9. Risk of infections
Those with lupus are at a greater risk of serious infections. Since most of the medication used to help treat lupus can also make it more difficult for the immune system to fight off infections, the immune system is weakened. Skin infections, urinary tract infections, and sepsis which is an infection that spreads through the bloodstream are more common.
How to Deal with Lupus to Avoid Complications
While having lupus can increase your chances of suffering from additional symptoms, there are ways you can manage and deal with these various complications of lupus. Try utilizing these tips and suggestion to help cope with any additional issues you might suffer from because of lupus.
1. Doctor visits
Regular doctor visits are necessary to help detect and prevent additional health issues that can occur from lupus. Your doctor will be able to better discuss changes you can make to decrease your chances of suffering from more severe complication and address your concerns quickly instead of waiting until symptoms occur or worsen.
Lupus can cause you to experience extreme fatigue. Getting plenty of rest can help reduce these periods of fatigue. If needed, try to nap in the day and get enough sleep each night.
3. Sun protection
The sun can actually trigger many flare ups for those who have lupus. When heading outdoors, you want to keep yourself protected from the sun's ultraviolet rays. Apply sunscreen, wear long sleeves, pants, and hats when possible to reduce the chance of sun exposed flare ups.
Regular exercise for those with lupus can help manage lupus symptoms significantly. Exercising can help individuals recover from a lupus flare up more quickly as well as fight of depression and reduce the risk of developing some heart complications.
5. Quit smoking
If you smoke and have lupus, you want to quit as soon as possible. While smoking is not good for anyone, smoking with lupus can cause severe issues with the cardiovascular system and increase the negative effect lupus can have on the blood and heart.
Those with lupus may have to implement some dietary restrictions. Complications of lupus can be managed through a more healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains.
7. Medications and other treatments
Each lupus case will be treated differently because the symptoms and signs vary from person to person. The medications and treatments you require may also change over time as you signs and symptoms change. Some of the most common treatment and medications options for those with lupus include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs to treat pain, fevers or swelling caused by lupus.
- Antimalarial medications used to help manage some symptoms of lupus that are also common in individuals who have malaria.
- Corticosteroids used to help counter the effects of the inflammation caused by lupus but can also increase the chances of long term side effects to occur such as high blood pressure, bone thinning, bruising, diabetes and increase of infections.
- Immunosuppressants may be required for severe cases of lupus to suppress the immune system.