The cold and flu season is upon us again, and this year it has gotten off to "about the earliest start in the last decade," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dawn Isherwood, Health Educator for the Lupus Foundation of America, writes about a few ways to avoid the cold and flu this season.
It’s Not too Late to Quit Smoking
Every year, on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the nation take part in the Great American Smokeout. As we approach this event and the New Year, we want you to know it’s never too late to quit. You can succeed with the right support, tools, resources, and more importantly, the right attitude. Make the decision to quit smoking as part of a healthy lifestyle choice on your journey with lupus. Your lupus will be better controlled, and you will decrease the possibility of lupus related complications.
Studies show that smoking (and simply being around cigarette smoke) can complicate and increase the potential effects of lupus. It can also lower the effectiveness of medications used to treat lupus. Cigarette smoking has been linked to more disease activity in lupus with the potential to increase:
- lung infections;
- heart complications;
- poor blood circulation (which can increase your Raynaud’s symptoms);
- blood clots and strokes;
- lupus skin disease;
- and kidney complications.
More than any lifestyle choice you can make, quitting cigarettes will have the most positive impact on your lupus, and your health in general. Talk to your doctor about the best way to begin this journey. Working together, you can choose strategies that will not interfere with your lupus treatment plan or medications. Then, work with your healthcare team to develop a plan to help you stop smoking. This plan may include the use of medications, patches, support groups or one on one counseling sessions. If you feel comfortable, talk to your family and friends about your decision to quit smoking. The more support you have, the more likely it is that you will be successful.
Take it one day at a time and do not be disappointed by setbacks. They will happen. Without a doubt, quitting smoking is hard; so remember to treat yourself with rewards as you reach milestones along the way. This could be an evening out, new clothes, or whatever else will help you stay motivated and on track. Embrace the notion that quitting smoking is the right thing for you, and for controlling your lupus. Everyone at the Lupus Foundation of America supports you on this journey towards a healthier life with lupus.
Visit the Lupus Foundation of America’s website if you’d like to learn more about the effects of smoking on lupus activity and the body, or strategies to help you quit. You can also visit Smokefree.gov to access expert information about creating a plan to quit, and to explore free professional assistance available to support your needs.
R. Paola Daly, Outcomes & Health Senior Manager, Lupus Foundation of America, shares her experience from the annual American College of Rheumatology meeting in San Diego and great tools she learned about on living well with lupus.