Lupus is a chronic autoimmune condition that is often tricky to diagnose. Treatment can also be challenging since lupus affects the body in different ways and different organs can be affected. Since you'll probably be managing lupus flares for the long term, work closely with a rheumatologist to get the best treatment for your condition and to keep flares to a minimum. Here are ways that lupus might affect your body and treatments and lifestyle changes that help manage your condition.

Symptoms You Might Experience

Lupus causes a variety of symptoms. There isn't a single blood test or exam that makes diagnosing lupus easy. Instead, your rheumatologist looks at the symptoms you're experiencing and the results of blood tests and other exams to consider if lupus could be the cause of your health problems.

You might have skin rashes, kidney, heart, or lung problems, behavioral changes, fatigue, joint pain, chest pain, dry eyes, trouble breathing, fever, confusion, or headaches. The organs that lupus affects will determine the type of symptoms you have. Your symptoms might be mild and intermittent, or your health problems could be severe enough to cause hospitalization and organ failure if you don't get proper treatment.

Treatments Your Rheumatologist Might Prescribe

A variety of medications are prescribed for lupus. You might take medications daily even when you feel fine to keep lupus flares away. Your rheumatologist may prescribe other medications for use during flares. Types of medications used for lupus include biologic drugs, corticosteroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants, and antimalarial drugs.

Since lupus can affect your lungs, heart, kidney, and brain, your doctor may need to prescribe additional medications to treat those organs or your cardiovascular system to control hypertension, blood clotting, lung inflammation, and other medical conditions.

Lifestyle Changes That Might Help

Lupus is sometimes triggered by UV exposure, so once you've been diagnosed, your doctor might advise you to stay out of the sun. When you go outdoors, wear sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your skin and to prevent triggering a rash.

Since lupus can affect your bones and your cardiovascular system, take steps to keep your body as healthy as possible through regular exercise and a healthy diet. Strong bones and unclogged arteries through a healthy lifestyle can help you fight some of the effects of lupus.

There is no cure for lupus right now, but research is ongoing. Instead, you can work with your rheumatologist to find medications and lifestyle changes to manage your condition well so your flares occur less frequently.

If you need to speak to a rheumatologist, contact a medical center like Sarasota Arthritis Center.