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Steroids-“when they’re good, they’re very, very good; but when they’re bad, they’re horrid”

 

I used to be skinny, so skinny, that jokes followed me around. Yep, people said, “she’s like a McDonald’s hamburger; so skinny, she only has one side;” that sort of thing. Then I was diagnosed with lupus and all that changed Why?

Meds commonly used for autoimmune symptoms are often non-steroidal anti-inflammatories drugs or NSAIDs. While they don’t pack on the pounds, if symptoms worsen and other meds which include  prednisone, Decadron™ or Solu-Medrol™ are used, watch the scales for weight gain which can increase the problems one has with ‘carting around’ extra weight.

It is known that steroids cause fluid retention and an increased appetite; both of which will increase weight rapidly. All of a sudden eating that second piece of pie is completely normal behavior! Another way is theorized: interference with fat metabolism and a redistribution of body fat.

But, steroid medications do have a good effect, one so good that having the moon face and other side effects of steroids is sometimes worth the side effects. Steroids are so good at relieving the inflammation which causes the discomfort and some of the life-threatening side effects from autoimmune disease (for example, the joint pain from RA) or the inflammation of the lung lining: pleurisy. Without them there would be more pain and aches.

Steroids also play a huge role in the treatment of asthma. The asthmatic would also have to make the choice to suffer the side effects of steroids or to breathe. Kind of an untenable choice, don’t you think? But there is an increased risk of osteoporosis due to their effects on the bones. 

Also, because there is redistributing of fat, you don’t have to take steroids for autoimmunity. Ashley Judd took high dose of steroids for a sinus infection and as beautiful as she is, you can see the impact of steroids on her face.

But there are ‘new kids on the block’ which don’t have the risk/side effects of steroids; Rituxan™, methotrexate™, Benlysta™ and a host of others.

 

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Autoimmunity took my teeth and mouth hostage!

 

How Autoimmune Disease Impacts Oral Health

Did you know that people who suffer from immune diseases have an increased risk of developing oral health conditions and gum diseases? Numbered below are common immune diseases and how oral health is impacted by them:

  1. LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS

The inflammation caused by lupus affects the mouth and tongue. This inflammation, can cause sores on the lips, palate and inside the cheeks. In extreme cases patients may also experience burning of the mouth and lack of saliva. Since saliva normally washes away food, sugars and bacteria, a lack of it can result in dry mouth and an increase in dental caries. Dry mouth increases the risk of decay and yeast/fungal infections of the mouth. Tooth decay can incrase the need for fillings, the need to extract teeth, dentures to replace missing teeth or ineffective chewing which can result in stomach and digestive problems

     2 RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation of the joints, and Rheumatoid Arthritis patients can experience inflammation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). TMJ patients experience extreme discomfort while performing any activity using their mouths: chewing and talking, opening their mouth at the dentist, eating. They may also experience facial pain, headaches, earaches, locking of the jaw, worn teeth and ringing in the ears. In a few cases, TMJ is caused by misalignment of joint and often expensive orthodontic treatment is needed to lessen or prevent the symptoms.

People suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis can also have Sjögren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease of the salivary and tear glands. Sjogren’s causes severe dryness of the mouth; thus creating problems with chewing and swallowing  and dryness. Because of this dryness there can result in heavy plaque deposits on the teeth. This in turn increases the chances of tooth decay and periodontal gum disease. Because of oral dryness and food not being completely digested when it leaves the mouth and difficulty swallowing,Sjogren’s patients also experience pneumonia because they choked on food. .

     3.SCLEORDERMA (Progressive Systemic Sclerosis)

Scleroderma is known for it’s hardening of the skin; often the lips and tongue are involved. As the effects of this increases, the mouth becomes narrower and the lips and tongue grow more rigid. A tightened mouth makes it difficult to open or move the jaw, thus causing difficulties cleaning the mouth. This increases the risk of developing tooth and gum infections, including periodontal disease or tooth caries.

     4.THYMIC HYPOPLASIA 

Thymic hypoplasia, (DiGeorge’s syndrome) causes abnormal growth of the thymus and parathyroid glands, leading to a white blood cell deficiency. Therefore, people with thymic hypoplasia are prone to viral and fungal infections, especially in the mouth. Oral Candidiasis, thrush, and herpes are some of most common fungal infections that affect those suffering from Thymic hypoplasia. In extreme cases, Thymic Hypoplasia affects the mouth and jaw, resulting in improper development of the palate resulting often in a cleft palate, a split uvula, a receding chin, or a shorter-than-normal distance between the nose and the upper lip.

     5 DERMATOMYOSITIS

Dermatomyositis is an inflammatory muscle disease that causes unusual skin rashes. It affects women more than men and can affect people at any age. Muscle weakness in the head and neck are the more common signs of dermatomyositis. This is especially concerning as it can also lead to difficulty in swallowing and chewing, and those suffering from Dermatomyositis may have hard bumps inside their face and tongue.

As you can see, each of the above mentioned diseases can have adverse impacts on the health of your mouth. Since the condition of your mouth directly impacts the functioning of your mouth and digestive system, the above mentioned diseases can drastically affect your overall health. If you have been diagnosed with any of the diseases mentioned above,  I can’t stress enough the necessity of meeting with your dentist, explain the concerns you have about your mouth and find out what you need to do to avoid the chances of complications due to oral dryness.

 

Author Bio:

Emily found the perfect fit for herself as the Online Marketing Manager at Thurman Orthodontics in Fresno CA. She believes that a great smile does more than just make a person look great – it makes them feel great as well. The power of a smile has always been a mystery to Emily that she solves by researching and writing about. She loves to write about everything to do with a healthy bite and a beautiful smile – whether is it ways to achieve it or the importance of it in the various aspects of life. What brings a big smile on Emily’s face is her family and surfing. She also likes to bake and her children and co-workers call her the cookie fairy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lupus Clinical Trial

This study is testing a ‘monoclonal antibody’ that may help to control the symptoms of SLE including the skin manifestations of lupus. A what? A monoclonal antibody! What’s that?

Monoclonal Antibodies (mAb) are heard of more often and have more uses, these days. But what are they? Remember, that antibodies are cells in the immune system which fight off invading organisms. Monoclonal antibodies are antibodies made by combining B lymphocytes with cancer-causing cells to the same end: to fight off invadng organisms. These cells are usually used to produce antibodies against the cancerous cells. Monoclonal antibodies are used instead of chemotherapy in patients with a form of bone cancer.

It was discovered that mAbs had uses in autoimmune diseases, like lupus, plaque psoriasis, rheumtoid arthritis to name a few. These are a few of the more common mAbs: Humira™, is a mAb, used for plaque psoriasis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rituxan™ is an mAb often used for lupus. Benlysta™ is an mAb often used for the treatment of SLE also. In fact, Benlysta™ was the first medication approved by the FDA for lupus treatment.

Unlike chemotherapy, which targets-well everthing, mAb’s targets specific structures (bacteria, viruses, cancer cells, etc-therefore there are fewer side effects to therapy with mAbs. Fewer side effects, more targeted medication, FDA-approved; what’s not to like?

Click here to be directed to the questionairre to see if you qualify for the clinical trial!

 

 

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The bleeding won’t stop!

Idiopathic Thrombocytic Purpura. Say what? Forget that it’s difficult to pronounce; what the heck does it mean? You’ve heard of red cells and white cells in the blood. There is another kind of cell; that cell is the platelet.

Technically speaking, platelets aren’t cells because they lack DNA. (To be considered ‘real’ cells, ‘cells’ need a nucleus with DNA). Platelets lack DNA, so technically they are not cells). But they, platelets (thrombocytes) cause the blood to clot.

People who have lupus can have low numbers of platelets for several reasons. In lupus and in all autoimmune diseases, cells of the immune system attack other cells. When platelets are attacked and killed, their numbers are decreased resulting in thrombocytopenia (low platelets in the blood); blood may or may not clot. That is one of the many reasons they check your platelet count before surgery. Can you see the headlines now? ‘The operation was a success, but the patient bled to death!’ It has happened.

Another reason that people with lupus might have low platelets is APS or antiphospholipid syndrome; another clotting disorder, often caused by lupus which increases the likelihood of blood-clotting. How could this be so? An increased likelihood of clotting at the same time there is a decreased likelihood? Platelets are so busy causing blood to clot in in all parts of the body, that in some areas, there are not adequate numbers of them to cause blood to clot. So much for the thrombocyte (thrombocytic) part. So much for the thrombocytic part and on to the idiopathic part!

‘Idiopathic’ simply means docs don’t know what causes something to happen. 

Purpura is a simple reference to what can happen when blood fails to clot. Blood may pool close to the skin surface, eventually clot and there is a resulting purplish discoloration; purpura or in it’s very technical term: bruising!

There you have it, ITP or Idiopathic Thrombocytic Purpura, sometimes not hazardous, but it can be serious and depending upon the severity, ITP may or may not be treated,. If it is treated, Plaquenil,™ steroids, Benlysta,™ CellCept™ or mycophenolate are among many meds of choice Other treatments can be Rituxan™ or in more severe cases, the surgical removal of the spleen (splenectomy). New treatments are in clinical trials, now.

 

 

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Join me in a lupus clinical trial

There is a lupus clinical trial that is recruiting applicants now. We all know that lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems — including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs.

Many people think of the inconvenient and bothersome side effects of lupus. Like sore joints and dry mouth. No, lupus affects the skin in many ways, too (makes it tighten and sometimes causes the formation of painful sores). Internally, it can wreak havoc on the heart, lungs as said before, causing inflammation; yes, lupus can and does KILL.

Approximately two-thirds of people with lupus will observe some type of effect on their skin. In fact, 40-70 percent of people with lupus will find that their disease is made worse by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight or artificial light. This study will take place in 30 areas of the US and will involve the use of  monoclonal  antibody to treat lupus.

As always, information here is not intended to take the place of the materials given to you by the clinical trial, but I know of the safety and efficacy of these trials.

 

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms? Make Sure You Take NSAIDs with food!

Rheumatoid Arthritis
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you know what it’s like to wake up to stiff, achy joints. You’ll also know that NSAIDs are among the medications used to treat RA.
Rheumatoid Arthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis, is a common condition affecting the joints. I’ve had people come up to me asking for advice about their RA meds. Some tell me that the meds cause stomach pain, and they’re wondering what to do about it.Well, first things first! Let’s talk about RA and its symptoms.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and its Symptoms

There are many forms of arthritis and RA is among the most common. It presents as swelling in the joints of the fingers, hands, feet and knees. IN some cases, it can cause symptoms that affect other parts of the body.

The most common symptoms of RA include:

  • Tender, swollen, painful joints
  • Joint stiffness, which is especially felt upon waking up or after periods of no activity
  • Joint redness and warmth
  • Limited movement in affected joints
  • Limping and deformities
  • Fever and fatigue
  • Anemia and weight loss

Most of these symptoms start out as mild. Joint symptoms usually happen in smaller joints first, like those in your fingers. As the condition progresses, it can affect larger joints like the knee joint.

Medications and Tips to take them

There are various medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. These include NSAIDs, steroids, and drugs called DMARDs. Most patients are prescribed with NSAIDs for the pain, along with another medication to stop the disease from getting worse.

NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can help lessen the swelling and stiffness. They can also effectively block the pain. Ibuprofen (check and compare Ibuprofen price and read about risks when using ibuprofen) and naproxen (check and compare naproxen prices) are over-the-counter NSAIDs that can be useful. Other stronger NSAIDs are available by prescription.

Like many medications, NSAIDs have some adverse effects. One of the most common is causing an upset stomach. This can happen especially if you take your medication on an empty stomach. Long-term use may also cause bleeding in the stomach lining. This is why it’s important to know how to take NSAIDs correctly.

Check out MeddySaid’s arthritis pain section to see which medications suit your profile and preferences. You can also read my post about Best Time To Take Medicines – Everything You Need to Know.

Useful Tips for Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Take your dose with food. Never take a NSAID on an empty stomach, as this can cause ulcers and bleeding.
  • Use the lowest possible dose. Lower doses of a medication are less likely to cause stomach upset and other risks.
  • Do not take a NSAID for the long-term. Though an NSAID can greatly help manage your Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms, it’s best to only take them during a flare-up. There are other medications that can help treat RA that is much safer in the long term.
  • Always check with your doctor or pharmacist when taking NSAIDs along with other medicines. Don’t take NSAIDs with blood-thinning medications like warfarin and clopidogrel. Be careful as well if you’re taking it with aspirin.
  • Don’t take NSAIDs if you have gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease, GERD, ulcers and gastritis. Talk to your doctor for help.

NSAIDs are very effective for managing pain, swelling and other symptoms. Though they do have their own risks, they can work well to bring relief from pain. Follow the tips above and you’ll have lesser chances of horrid side effects!

About MeddySaid
MeddySaid’s team is passionate about helping you choose the right product for your health. MeddySaid was created by experienced clinical pharmacists and specialists dedicated to delivering accurate, trusted, up-to-date health and medical information. MeddySaid’s simple-to-use, the problem-solving platform helps you make the right product decision, at the best price, for yourself and your loved ones.

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3 Tips for Surviving a Stressful Job Despite Chronic Illness

Surviving a Stressful Job Despite Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness can be extremely difficult, when you work in a high stress field you may find your health quickly taking a nosedive. So, what do you do?

While some may be forced to quit their jobs due to their health, some people manage to find their own delicate balance that allows them to keep working in high stress environments. Here are three important tips that help me keep my balance.

You Are What You Eat

Diet cannot be stressed enough, but between having little to no time for meal prep and the unpredictability of breaks, eating healthy can be a challenge. While a complete diet overhaul would be best, in most cases it is not necessarily feasible. So the next best thing is finding and eliminating your food sensitivities.

There are numerous articles and lists on the internet telling you what foods you should avoid for every type of illness under the sun, so do some research for your particular illness. Then narrow down those lists by paying attention to what your body is telling you, find what your personal triggers are and avoid them.

A food diary can be invaluable when you are discovering your dietary sensitivities. Write down what you eat each day as well as how you are feeling, then look for patterns.

Do your joints ache the day after you eat a steak or burger? What about after pizza or spaghetti? Once you discover what you need to avoid, look for substitutions. Tomatoes make you ache? The internet has many tomato-free recipes, so you can have your pizza and eat it too.

Give Yourself Permission to Rest

Stress is the enemy, it can quickly exacerbate chronic illnesses and can be extremely detrimental to your health. We often deal with irate customers and tight deadlines, if we aren’t careful this constant stress can not only weigh us down but also follow us home.

That is why we all need an outlet, so take a moment to think of things that soothe you. It can be as simple as going for a walk on your lunch break or as creative as writing music. The idea is to release those emotions and stress so they can’t bottle up.

Your mental health is just as important as your physical in managing an illness. So give yourself permission to take the occasional evening or weekend off with no cell phone, leave work where it belongs and giving yourself some personal time.

Admit You Are Not a Super Hero

Yeah, that’s a tough one to swallow; you are amazing but you aren’t invincible. The 40+ hour work weeks of the past might no longer be within your capabilities.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to quit, but maybe it’s time to reevaluate. Work with your employer, maybe you can cut back your hours by working shorter days without hurting yourself.

You need to be honest about what your health will allow you to do at this point.

It’s better to cut down your hours for now than to work yourself so far into the ground that you are forced to quit. Listening to what your body is telling you is vital. So pay attention to how you feel each week and be open to adjustments.

Finding the Balance

When you are diagnosed with a chronic illness you quickly discover that long hours and bad nutrition are no longer an option. Incorporate some of these changes into your daily routine. Your body may seem like the enemy but it can also be your greatest ally.

Listen to what your body is telling you and act accordingly, small changes can result in big improvements. It’s a daily struggle, but once you find that balance you may just find that you can maintain your health and keep your high stress job too.

Candice Hardman is a writer who uses her experiences as a healthcare worker and patient to bridge the gap in health communications. She provides professional writing services that help improve patient understanding and outcomes through her website.

 

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