You may already know that keeping track of your symptoms is an important part of managing your lupus. But do you know why?
Keeping track of my symptoms sometimes feels like work. But I know having them written down helps me remember to tell my doctor about them all.
Good days & bad days
One of the trickiest parts of lupus is that signs and symptoms can come and go. You may have a rash that lasts a few weeks and then disappears, not to reappear for weeks or months. Or you may wake up one day with swollen joints—out of the blue. Plus, a symptom you have felt before may come back more severely the next time.
Anytime you’re feeling something new (or a flareflare: a sudden increase in disease activity. of something you’ve felt before), take note of it. Even if you aren’t sure if it’s related to your lupus, write it down and talk about it with your doctor. Lupus can affect your whole body in ways you may not even recognize. Track:
- What you’re feeling
- How severe it is
- What body parts are involved
- When it started
- How long it lasted (if it has cleared up)
Remember that signs and symptoms may mean that your lupus is active.
Active disease can be causing long-term damage to your organs. Your doctor may be able to help you find treatment options to help control the symptoms and reduce disease progression.
Watch the triggers
A trigger is something that may cause symptoms to appear. They can make your lupus active or bring on a flare.
When you have a flare, think about the days leading up to it. Can you identify what may have caused it? If so, take note of that, too. Common triggers include:
- UV rays from the sun or fluorescent lightbulbs
- Medicines that make you more sensitive to the sun
- Penicillin or other antibiotics
- An infection, a cold, or a virus
- An injury, particularly traumatic injury
- Emotional stress, such as a divorce, illness, or death in the family
- Stress at work
- Anything that causes stress to the body, such as surgery, physical harm, pregnancy, or giving birth
Look for patterns
Keeping track of your triggers can help you begin to see a pattern in your flares. It can also help you keep them top of mind, so you can try to avoid them as much as possible! Be sure to talk about your triggers with your doctor, too. The more your doctor knows, the better they can help you manage your lupus and create the right treatment plan for you.
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