The cold and flu season is upon us again and I already got a corker lasting for more than 3 weeks and now high fever kicking off again! High incidences of flu have been reported in several of our medical institutions and some of you may already have been dealing with these annual nuisances.
When you have lupus, you have to be careful to protect yourself from viruses because they have the potential to not only make you feel horrible from the illness itself but to cause a flare or increased activity of your lupus, providing a double whammy. The use of strong immune suppressants may put some of you at an even higher risk for contracting a virus. This is because the goal of lupus treatment is to suppress your immune system so that it does not produce auto (self) antibodies that cause lupus symptoms. When your immune system is suppressed, you have the potential for increased chances of catching viruses and infections. In other words, your body is a breeding ground for those pesky flu germs.
So how can you best try to avoid a cold or the flu?
A good place to start is to talk to your doctor about your annual flu vaccine. The early reports are that the vaccine formula is a good match for the types of flues that are being reported throughout the island.
While nothing is 100 percent fool-proof, some simple steps you may want to keep in mind to help lessen the possibility of getting a cold, the flu or other virus include:
- Avoid anyone—including family members—with symptoms of fever (over 100º F), nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Specifically, you should avoid close, personal contact, such as hugging, kissing, and shaking hands.
- Wash your hands (tops, palms, and fingers) frequently with hot, soapy water for at least 15 seconds.
- Remember that surfaces—especially in bathrooms, on shared office equipment, on store countertops, gas pump handles, any surface of the car, and in restaurants—can expose you to germs. Keep alcohol-based gel or wipes handy, both out in public and at home.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Use the crook of your arm to shield coughs and sneezing. Do not use your hands or handkerchiefs as they carry moisture that spread viruses.
- Stay home from work or school if you are sick.
- Please remember that you should never discontinue medications used to treat your lupus without first consulting with your doctor.
Clinical Evaluation Of Possible Infection
Active lupus and infection may share many symptoms. Furthermore, infection can bring on a lupus flare, or can be difficult to distinguish from a lupus flare. For example, fever and decreased energy are nonspecific symptoms that may be associated with either a lupus flares or an infection.
More specific symptoms, like sore throat or pain on taking a deep breath, may also occur with either a flare of lupus or with infection. Therefore, it is important for a person with lupus to contact his or her physician whenever symptoms are suggestive of either a disease flare or an infection.
Stay safe and well lupies 🙂