Basics for Better Living
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
Seventy percent of people with lupus have systemic lupus. About half have organ-threatening disease:
- serious blood involvement
and half have non-organ threatening disease:
- aching, and/or pain on taking a deep breath
- normal urinalysis, EKG, and chest x-ray.
Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease (UCTD)
Finally, many people with early lupus-like symptoms don't meet the ACR criteria but have an undifferentiated connective tissue disease process. Studies have shown that, while many of these people will develop SLE over time, others will develop rheumatoid arthritis, have mild persistent symptoms, or find that the process just disappears.
How Can You Help Yourself?
Be Careful In The Sun
Two-thirds of the people with lupus have problems with ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) radiation from the sun.
- If you are going to be outside for more than five minutes, use a sunscreen.
- Choose a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15
- Make sure it blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
- UVB sun exposure is greatest at midday, so do your outdoor activities earlier in the morning, late in the afternoon, or in the evening and wear protective clothing.
- Ultraviolet radiation is also greater at higher altitudes. The UV exposure at sea level in one hour is the same as the exposure in five minutes at an altitude of one mile like in Denver, Mexico City, or on a ski slope.
People with lupus should eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet.
- There are some suggestions that fish, or specifically eicosopentanioc acid in fish oil, might have modest anti-inflammatory properties. The results of double-blind controlled studies showed that eating the equivalent of two fish meals a week clearly helps rheumatoid arthritis pain.
- An amino acid, L-canavanine, is found in alfalfa sprouts and can activate the immune system and increase inflammation in lupus patients. Other foods in the legume family have only a fraction of the L-canavanine that sprouts do and are safe to eat.
- Lupus patients taking corticosteroids should limit their sugar and salt intake.