12 of the Most Commonly Asked Questions About Lupus

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by Wendy Henderson |

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If you’ve recently been diagnosed with lupus, it’s natural to have a long list of questions about the disease, including how it’ll affect you and what kind of treatment you’ll need.

Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about lupus, thanks to the Lupus Research Alliance and the Lupus Initiative.

How did I get lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that has no real known cause, but experts believe it’s a mixture of genetics and environment triggers. There are instances where lupus runs in the family, but it’s fairly rare.

Is it contagious?
Lupus isn’t contagious. You can’t catch it from someone, nor pass it on to someone by touching them, kissing them, having sex, etc.

Who gets lupus?
Lupus mainly affects women — around 90 percent of lupus sufferers are female. In addition, it usually strikes young women in their childbearing years. However, men and children can also develop the disease. Ethnic groups are more at risk of developing lupus than those with European backgrounds.

MORE: Nine important facts about lupus you may not know

What are the symptoms of lupus?
There is a wide range of lupus symptoms, but some of the common ones include a facial rash, unexplained fever, painful joints, chest pains, fatigue, hair loss, sun sensitivity, swelling in the legs, swollen glands, and Raynaud’s phenomenon where the fingers turn white or blue in cold temperatures.

Do I need to see a specialist doctor?
If you have been diagnosed with lupus you’ll need to see a rheumatologist for treatment.

Do I need to follow a special diet?
There is no special diet for lupus, but some sufferers find that certain foods trigger flares. Eating a healthy, balanced diet with lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat protein and limited amounts of processed foods will help with overall health.

MORE: Tips for eating well with lupus

What kind of medication will I need?
The type of medications used to treat lupus will depend on your symptoms. You may only have mild symptoms which can be managed with over-the-counter tablets and cream, or you may have more severe symptoms which require further treatment.

Can I exercise with lupus?
If you feel up to it, exercise is highly recommended for patients with lupus. Find an exercise you enjoy and can comfortably perform.

What is a lupus flare?
A “flare” is the term used when you experience lupus symptoms. The symptoms of the disease can come and go and are often triggered by illness, stress, poor diet, being overtired, and sun exposure.

MORE: What does a lupus flare feel like?

How can I manage my lupus?
Lupus is managed by medication and lifestyle changes. Looking after your overall health is key to lupus management. Eating well, exercising, getting plenty of rest and avoiding stress as much as possible will help keep lupus flares at bay.

Can I take part in clinical trials?
Clinical trials are important to further advance the understanding of lupus and to create new treatments and therapies to help patients. Speak to your doctor to see if there any clinical trials you could participate in.

Can I have children if I have lupus?
Many women with lupus become pregnant and have children. You may be considered a high-risk pregnancy which requires careful monitoring.

MORE: Seven pregnancy tips for lupus patients

Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.