Summer means a lot of fun yet a lot of sun. For families with kids, summer is always the best time to go on trips and vacations. But for people with lupus, summer can mean more pain and discomfort. Fortunately, you can keep lupus at bay while traveling. Enjoying summer with lupus is entirely within reach. This time, you just have to be extra mindful when it comes to overdoing any activity or spending more time under the sun. Taking care of yourself is the key. Follow these tips to have an enjoyable summer trip with your family and friends.
1. Exercise: With or without lupus, making time for exercise is important for everyone. For people with lupus, exercise can strengthen your bone density, lower your risk of injury, improve your outlook, and relieve tension. To avoid aggravating your symptoms by working muscles and joints too much, start out slowly. It’s important that you’re fit and strong, because you will be doing a lot of walking on vacation.
2. Sun and Safety: Overexposure to the sun can lead to rashes or even hot flashes. Here are some things you can do to avoid these symptoms:
- Avoid the midday sun as it’s at its strongest.
- Enjoy your view from under a shady tree or an umbrella.
- Apply sunscreen every two hours during the day with at least 30 SPF, hitting spots that are easily overlooked like the backs of your knees or behind your ears.
- Always head down to the poolside or beach with a cover-up on. Vests and cooling scarves should come in handy while out and about.
- You can be sensitive to some sunscreens. So, do some trial and error beforehand to find the right one that suits your skin.
3. Get Rid of the Insects: For people with lupus, insects like mosquitoes, flies, gnats, and bees can do harm. A lot of lupus patients have experienced a severe reaction to bug bites. To lessen your risk of insect bites, make sure to:
- Apply an insect repellent lotion before going out, especially when you’re camping. Use repellents that contain Diethyltoluamide, as they are considered to be very effective.
- Avoid exposing your skin especially around sunrise and sunset when insects tend to be most active. Be sure to wear some cover-ups. The long sleeves and long pants you use to shield UV rays can also be used to protect yourself against those insects.
- Stay away from areas near water such as swamps and ponds where mosquitoes could dwell.
- If you ever get a bite, wash the bite spot with water and soap. Do not scratch it to avoid infection. If the area is swollen and it’s in pain, take painkillers like Paracetamol or Ibuprofen. A cold compress can also help reduce the swelling.
4. Avoid Potential Contagions: Since lupus causes a negative immune system response to your body, people with lupus are more prone to contracting viruses and infections. Thus, avoid large crowds where contact is unavoidable. You also have to avoid direct contact with loved ones or friends who are suffering from a cold or viral infection. Always wash your hands thoroughly or use a sanitizer to get rid of potential contagions.
5. Eat Healthy: There is no special diet for lupus, but eating healthy is still important. Generally, people with lupus should have a well-balanced diet which includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A moderate amount of meats and fishes are also good. Maintaining a well-balanced diet helps in reducing inflammation and other symptoms.
6. Plenty of Water: Make sure to drink enough water throughout the day. The 8-glasses-a-day idea is not a rule, but, you should be sipping water regularly. It can help push out toxins from the body, and it can help the sluggish digestive systems that many lupus patients experience.
7. Enough Amount of Sleep: To avoid the symptoms of extreme fatigue and weakness, make sure to get enough sleep. Enjoying summer with lupus is more achievable if you’re well rested. Sleep for no less than eight hours at night. If you stay up late one night, take a long nap the next day. You don’t want to drain yourself too much throughout the trip.
Before Your Trip
Know your triggers.Before going on a trip, you need to identify your triggers. Most lupus sufferers experience flare-ups due to certain triggers. Track your flare-ups by triggers or stressors. Every person who has lupus has different triggers. The most common triggers are sun exposure, emotional stress, certain foods, colds or infection. Knowing your triggers can help you avoid them so as to not aggravate a flare-up of your symptoms. Don’t forget to care for your body while on your trip. Simple measures can help prevent lupus flares from coming. Be prepared with the things you need while traveling. Here are some useful items that will make your summer pleasurable and safer:
1. Sunglasses. Use sunglasses to protect your eyes from the rays of the sun as well as the breeze. The wind can actually make your eyes flare up. Look for darker sunglasses with wide sides. Great sunglasses offer UVA/UVB protection.
2. Eye drops. Many people with lupus will experience dry eyes issues. So, if you’re like them, keep your eye drops handy.
3. Hats. Covering up during the hot season may sound weird, but exposure to the sun can lead to damaging effects like butterfly rashes and severe flare-ups. Hats never go out of style. So, it isn’t weird to wear a hat, even in the summer. People use this as an opportunity to showcase their style and individuality.
4. Cleansing wipes. When walking around outdoors, having an oil-free hypoallergenic cleansing wipe is a smart idea. Wipes are great for wiping up your sweat. They can also act as a great cleanser for removing oil and dirt from your face.
5. Cooling blankets. Cooling blankets are now widely available. They can even be purchased online. They can be pretty expensive, but you can use them all year round. Many people with lupus experience night sweats. A cooling blanket can get rid of those night sweats. Get the type of cooling blanket that lasts for a couple of hours and doesn’t leave your sheets damp.
6. Medicine. Your medicines are your safety net. You don’t want to feel helpless when having flares on vacation. You don’t just bring your medicines because you want to enjoy your summer vacation, but it’s primarily because you are away from you doctor, your own bed, pharmacy, etc. Having a debilitating pain in your hotel room isn’t an ideal get-away. Also, make sure to let your family or friends know where your medicines are.
Enjoying the summer with lupus means taking precautions. Tailoring your activities to the morning or evening hours is in fact preferable. For pregnant women, it is not advisable to go on summer trips. According to LupusUK.org, pregnant women with lupus have increased the risk of miscarriage. Also, it is best to consult your doctor if you seem to have a reaction such as swollen glands or difficulty in breathing. Make sure your family or friends who are with you on the trip have your doctor’s contact number. Throughout your trip, try to relax whenever you feel stressed or tired. You don’t have to participate in all activities. Your loved ones will surely understand and would gladly make you feel safe and comfortable.