Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is one of the very famous chronic autoimmune conditions, which means that a person’s immune system isn’t working right. If you have been diagnosed with lupus, you might also be concerned about COVID-19.
You can continue reading this struggle to learn how the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) affects people with lupus, how to compare symptoms of each illness, and how you can manage your mental health in such stressful times.
How does COVID-19 affect people living with lupus?
According to information by the Lupus Foundation of America, living with lupus means that you’re at a higher risk for infections, and that includes infection with COVID-19, and also for severe complications if you happen to develop COVID-19.
Like every other autoimmune disorder, lupus involves an immune system that unknowingly attacks healthy tissue. Lupus is also known to cause damage to the kidneys, heart, or nervous system. It may be a challenge to fight off a virus, especially if you are on immune-suppressing medications.
Getting any kind of infection can easily trigger a disease flare-up. Also, there may be an increased risk of complications if you have coexisting conditions, such as kidney disease, heart disease, or diabetes.
Will there be a shortage of medications for lupus?
Chloroquine (Aralen) and Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) are antimalaria drugs that many doctors also prescribe for the treatment of lupus.
In the early part of 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved and later revoked, emergency use authorization of such drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 in some people.
With major concern over COVID-19, there may be an increase in demand. Could it be a problem to fill your prescription:
- Make sure to ask your doctor for a supply of your medications for 90 days or 30 days.
- Do well to request refills well before you are close to running out. Due to COVID-19, there are some insurers that allow early refills.
- If your pharmacy is beginning to run low on meds, ask the pharmacist about other possible options.
- Call other pharmacies in order to check their stock. Before you order, make sure that they are in your plan’s network and, if not so, know what your out-of-pocket expenses may be.
- Do a research of mail-order options with your desired pharmacy.
- Do well to consult with your insurance company on many other mail-order options. Do well to also check out the FDA’s tips for safely when purchasing medications.
- Discuss temporary reductions of dosage with your doctor if your supply becomes limited.
How can you tell the difference between COVID-19 and Lupus symptoms?
Both COVID-19 and lupus involve a wide range of symptoms. Individuals may experience them in several different ways. The symptoms they share include:
- Muscle pain
- General weakness
Some other widespread symptoms of lupus may include the following:
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
- Joint pain
- Color changes of hands (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
- Skin issues, including “butterfly rash” on the face
Lupus can also cause:
- Sores in the nose, mouth, or on genitals
- Hair loss
- Cognitive impairment
Additional symptoms of COVID-19 may also include;
- Shortness of breath
- Chills, shaking
- Sore throat
- Severe headache
- Loss of taste or smell
- Pain or pressure in the chest
If you have noticed symptoms of COVID-19, make sure to contact your doctor right away to get directions on self-care or testing. You can also schedule a telehealth visit with your doctor.
What should I do if I have lupus and test positive for COVID-19?
If you have tested positive for COVID-19, it is best that you continue to take your prescribed lupus drugs. Once done, consult with your doctor about the next feasible steps. Immediately report any new or worsening symptoms.
Isolate yourself as the first step after talking to your doctor. If you live with other people, isolate within your room, and wear a mask when you are unable to maintain separation. Everyone in your home must practice frequent handwashing.
Remain in isolation until:
- At no less than 14 days since your symptoms began.
- You have gone three days without a fever and without taking any fever-reducing medication.
- You no longer notice respiratory symptoms, such as cough or shortness of breath.
Depending on where they are in the world, most of those who test positive for infection with the novel coronavirus will be contacted by a public health officer.
These public health workers will tailor the patient’s recommendations for isolation to their specific circumstances, health, and living arrangements.
Having as many as two negative tests taken no less than 24 hours apart typically means that it’s safe to come out of isolation.
In some communities, it could be challenging to get tested for COVID-19 or to get results quickly. If unsure, first make sure to check with your doctor, your county public health officer, or even check with both before you go out in public.