Although Covid-19 is a respiratory virus, it has been found to affect people differently, especially those with preexisting health conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). If you or a loved one currently have lupus, you are likely wondering just how Covid-19 can affect individuals with lupus. In order to help you manage your health during this time, here is some information on the relationship between Covid-19 and lupus:
Symptoms: Covid- 19 or Lupus?
First and foremost, you will want to be aware of the various symptoms associated with both Covid-19 and lupus. Distinct symptoms of Covid-19 include: cough, shortness of breath, chills, sore throat, severe headache, loss of taste or smell, confusion, and pain or pressure in the chest. Distinct symptoms of lupus include: joint pain, malaise, skin issues (butterfly rash on face), coloration changes in the hands, and a loss of hair, appetite, or weight. While each condition has symptoms that are distinctive, they also have some symptoms that overlap, such as:
- General weakness
- Muscle pains
Since there is some overlap of symptoms, the best way to determine whether you are affected by Covid-19 is to get tested. You should also call your doctor to schedule an telehealth appointment for further medical advice.
How Does Covid-19 Affect Individuals with Lupus?
Due to the fact that lupus is a chronic autoimmune condition, the Lupus Foundation of America notes that those with the condition are at a higher risk of developing any type of infection, including Covid-19. As an autoimmune condition, lupus causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy cells. Unfortunately, this can have negative effects on the heart, kidneys, and nervous system, which makes it harder to fight off serious infections. Possible complications from Covid-19 are also compounded by additional medical conditions or immune-suppressing medications.
How Can I Prevent Covid-19?
If you or a loved one is affected by lupus, the best way to deal with Covid-19 is to prevent it by reducing the risk of infection. While researchers are still looking into the best ways to prevent infection, current research notes that the best way to prevent Covid-19 is to limit the amount of time spent in close proximity to those outside your immediate household. Additionally, if people in your household are exposed to other people, you should also avoid long periods of close contact with them as well.
In cases when you must leave your house, be sure to follow the guidelines set by medical professionals, including: wear a mask, keep 6ft of distance from others, avoid crowds, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands after touching shared surfaces, and avoid touching your face, mouth, nose, or eyes.
Additionally, you will want to continue taking your lupus medication as directed by your doctor. Certain medications, such as hydroxychloroquine (Palquenil) and chloroquine (Aralen), are being used by some to treat Covid-19. Because of this, some people worry about their prescriptions being in increased demand. To combat this, many insurers are allowing early refills and many doctors are issuing 90-day supplies instead of the traditional 30-day supply. You can also discuss other options with your pharmacist or visit a different pharmacy. However, be sure to check your insurance plan to make sure other pharmacies are in your network.