Daily Life with Lupus
Having lupus can make everyday life challenging. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, especially when first diagnosed. The good news is there’s a lot you can do to manage your lupus symptoms so you can keep doing the things you love to do.
Manage lupus symptoms
Try these tips to help lessen your symptoms:
Most people with lupus have fatigue (feel tired often). Try these tips to beat fatigue:
- Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep each night
- Take breaks during the day to rest and recover — there’s no shame in needing a nap
- Make changes to your daily routine when you need to
Stress can trigger your symptoms or make them worse. Use these tips to manage everyday stress:
- Plan ahead — decide what’s most important and do that task first
- Ask for help when you need it
- Make time for fun, relaxing activities
- Try not to sweat it if you have to cancel plans — remember, your health comes first
Many people with lupus have “lupus fog” (feelings of confusion and memory loss). Try these ideas to help clear the fog:
- Focus on 1 task at a time
- When someone tells you their name or an important piece of information, try repeating it out loud and writing it down
- Before a doctor's appointment, write down your questions and bring your medical diary so you can tell the doctor about your symptoms and side effects
- Keep a calendar to record appointments and reminders
Most people with lupus have joint pain, muscle pain, or headaches. Ask your doctor about these ways to manage pain:
- Using heat or cold packs
- Taking over-the-counter pain medicines
- Relaxing with meditation, breathing exercises, or gentle yoga
- Trying healing techniques like acupuncture, acupressure, or biofeedback
Eat healthy and be physically active
Healthy living is good for everyone — and for people with lupus, it’s especially important. Work with your health care team to come up with plan for both eating healthy and staying active. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Choose proteins like lean meats, poultry, and seafood
- For bone health, eat foods with lots of calcium, like spinach and dairy
- For heart health, eat foods with Omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and walnuts
- Try walking, swimming, or biking — these low-impact activities help your bones and muscles without hurting your joints
- Try gentle yoga to relieve stress and loosen tight muscles – ask your treatment team what kind of yoga is best for you
Always check with your doctors before taking any herbs, vitamins, or dietary supplements — they can affect the medicines used to treat lupus or make your condition worse.
Protect yourself from infections
Lupus increases your risk of infections. Use these tips to protect yourself:
- Wash your hands often
- Clean and protect any cuts or wounds
- Avoid people with colds or other illnesses you could catch
- Talk with your doctors about taking antibiotics before medical procedures
- Tell a doctor right away if a cut becomes red, painful, or swollen, or if you have a fever over 100° F
If you have lupus, it’s a good idea to get certain vaccines — but you may not be able to get others. Always check with your doctors before you get vaccines or allergy shots. Watch this video to learn more about lupus and vaccines.
Protect yourself from ultraviolet (UV) light
Most people with lupus are sensitive to UV light — and it can trigger lupus symptoms. Follow these tips to stay protected:
- Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher that blocks both UVA and UVB rays
- Wear long sleeves, pants, and wide-brimmed hats made of fabrics that protect you from the sun
- Plan outdoor activities for early in the morning or later in the evening
People with lupus can be sensitive to indoor lighting, too. If indoor light bothers you, try putting light shields over fluorescent bulbs. You can also buy light bulbs that send out low amounts of UV radiation, like LED lights.
Smoking can trigger lupus symptoms and make them worse. If you smoke, make a plan to quit.
Get help living with lupus
Professionals can teach you new ways to manage your lupus symptoms:
- Cognitive therapists can help with lupus fog
- Occupational therapists can make your work space and tasks more manageable
- Physical therapists can help with joint problems and improve your strength
Learn how to cope with lupus at work, at school, and in relationships
Lupus can affect your relationships and create challenges at school and work. But there are steps you can take to stay involved with the people and activities you care about.
Monique Gore-Massy shares the challenges she’s faced living with lupus.
For more information about managing daily life with lupus, visit the National Resource Center on Lupus.