Lupus Is Going Down

Helping You Live Well With Lupus

the digestive system

Lupus pain can be excruciating. Especially, when it’s abdominal pain. So, here’s what you can do to ease your pain caused by lupus digestive problems.

Since lupus causes your immune system to attack your own body, it goes without saying that it can cause digestive problems. In fact gastrointestinal issues are common with lupus.

Just ask anyone with lupus. I’m sure you’ve experienced your share of digestion issues with lupus. Yet, lupus affects everyone differently. Your symptoms may not be the same as mine.

It’s important that you discuss any abdominal pain with your doctor. Pain of any kind is a signal that something is wrong. And, some gastrointestinal issues that lupus causes can be very serious.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I’m an individual that suffers from lupus. All content found on, including text, images, audio, or other formats, were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

So, with that being said, here’s some common abdominal problems that are associated with lupus.

Plus, I’ll share some things you can do at home to relieve that lupus pain in your gut.

Here’s What You Can Expect In This Post:


GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease (no wonder people use an acronym). Basically, GERD is chronic acid reflux. It can be caused by a hiatal hernia, improper closing of the muscle at the base of the esophagus, or weak muscles (Source).

GERD can be very painful, along with all the other lupus digestive problems. The bile that comes up can burn your esophagus. To me, it feels like my chest is burning. And, it hits right after eating, in the middle of the night, or pretty much out of the blue.

Honestly, I hate waking up in the middle of the night because I threw up some stomach bile in my mouth. After that, it’s hard going back to sleep.

If you have reflux more than twice a week, you could possibly have GERD.

GERD is one of the common lupus digestive problems


  • Heartburn
  • Excessive saliva
  • Bitter taste
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Burping
  • Hiccups
  • Nausea
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Weight loss
  • Disrupted sleep

As you can see, GERD is more than just a little heartburn. It can disrupt more than just your sleep: family get-togethers, birthday parties, or a quiet night at home. In other words, you just don’t know when it’s going to hit.

Things To Avoid

As with everything else with lupus, certain activities can make your GERD worse. Of course, stress is going to make the list. Stress is one of the major triggers for lupus flares.

Along with avoiding stress, you also need to avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine.

But, I’m not done. Specific foods can be aggravators, as well. These include fatty foods, processed foods, and spicy foods. In addition, you need to throw carbonated beverages and coffee to the list.

Okay, so you’re thinking that’s a pretty big list. Yet, there’s more to add. Yep, stay away from garlic and tomatoes, too.

And, finally, chocolate and mint might make your reflux act up, as well.

Yeah, some things we enjoy (hello, chocolate and coffee for me) agitate your GERD. So, you need to avoid these as much as possible.

A Quick Word About Eating Healthy

Since GERD is a chronic disorder, not only do you need to practice prevention, but you also need to be prepared for when it does strike.

But before I mention the things you can do to alleviate your reflux, let’s talk about something that’s both prevention and remedy.

And that’s making healthy lifestyle choices. Yes, I’m talking about improving your diet. Eating healthy with lupus isn’t an option. It’s a necessity. Along with what you eat, you may want to consider eating smaller portions and eating slowly. This aids in proper digestion.

Things That Help

Okay, I’m off my soapbox. Now, it’s time to address ways you can combat reflux at home.

Here are a few things that help:

  • Over-the-counter antacids- like Rolaids or Tums
  • OTC H2 blockers like Pepcid AC or Zantac
  • OTC Proton- Pump Inhibitors (PPI) like Nexium or Prilosec
  • Stress relieving activities like taking a walk or mindfulness
  • Start a food journal to identify food triggers
  • Aloe Vera juice
  • Chewing gum after eating- increases saliva which neutralizes stomach acid (and freshens your breath, just saying)
  • Eat a banana every day- coats the lining of the esophagus and stomach
  • Ginger
  • Probiotics- restores healthy flora to your gut to help fight bad bacteria

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Another one of the common lupus digestive problems is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). And, it’s the one that makes people uncomfortable to talk about. Because it’s about bathroom issues.

But, you need not to talk about it. More than that, you need to be aware of it. And, do what you can to ease your discomfort.

Basically, IBS affects your large intestine. While the cause of IBS is debated, inflammation is the factor that resonates the most with lupus in my opinion.

Abdominal pain with lupus may be IBS


So, what does IBS look like?

Symptoms of IBS includes:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Alternating between diarrhea and constipation
  • Gas
  • Loss of appetite
  • Interrupted sleep because of the need to go at night (often diarrhea)
  • Mucus or blood in stool

Yeah, this is why it’s embarrassing. But, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed. You have lupus. It’s not your fault.

Things To Avoid

Again, and you’re going to see this repeated over and over- stress.

Also, again, you need to avoid certain foods like gluten, dairy, citrus fruits, cabbage, nuts and seeds, cauliflower, beans, sugar, and chocolate.

Finally, just like with GERD, you should avoid artificial sweeteners, carbonated beverages, alcohol, processed foods, or fatty foods.

Incidentally, if you’re wanting a complete list of the foods to avoid and foods you can eat when experiencing inflammation, read my post- The AIP Diet Food List: Do’s and Don’ts.

I highly recommend the Autoimmune Protocol diet for eliminating inflammation. For IBS, you would just have to add a few additional food items.

Things That Help

Now, I know I might begin to sound like a broken record, but IBS can be controlled by lifestyle changes like exercising, diet modification, and getting proper sleep. And, I know that these lifestyle changes are hard to make with lupus.

Who has the energy to exercise, right? Yet, exercise has been proven to increase your energy level.

For more about how exercise can help you with your lupus, read my post- 8 Things To Consider With Lupus and Exercise.

Other than diet modification and exercise, what else helps with IBS?

You might try:

  • Eating bone broth- aids in healing your gut
  • Pepperment oil
  • Managing your stress- through mindfulness or yoga
  • Eating fermented foods- restores healthy microbiomes to gut
  • Probiotic supplements- if you’re intolerant to fermented foods (or you just can’t handle the taste)
  • L-glutamine
  • Slippery elm
  • Journaling to identify triggers
  • Using a heating pad or heating bag for the abdominal pain
  • Ginger
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Accupressure

Trust me, I suffer from IBS myself, when your experience gut pain, you want it to go away and you want it to go away fast. These tips are what I use to make that happen.

Ulcerative Colitis

For the third disease on the list of lupus digestive problems, I now turn to ulcerative colitis. I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials for ulcerative colitis medications. But, what exactly is ulcerative colitis?

Well, it’s an inflammatory bowel disease. Ulcerative colitis involves inflammation of the colon and rectum. And, it’s called ulcerative because it causes ulcers, or open sores.

So, what’s the difference between IBS and ulcerative colitis? As I understand it, IBS doesn’t cause damage to the bowel like ulcerative colitis does.

the colon


So, what kind of symptoms do you experience with ulcerative colitis?

They include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Fever
  • Sudden urge to go
  • Feeling like you need to go constantly
  • Itchy, dry skin
  • Joint pain
  • Bloody stool
  • Lack of bowel control
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

Now, I’ve been fortunate and do not have ulcerative colitis. But, my mother does. And, it has disrupted her life so much. So, I researched if for her (she’s not much into the digital age).

Things To Avoid

And, these are the things I’ve discovered that you should avoid with ulcerative colitis.

As for foods, you need to stay away from seeds and nuts, sugar, spices, dairy, and other inflammatory foods that include gluten (see The AIP Diet Foods List for the complete list of foods to avoid).

Along with avoiding these ingredients, you also will want to stay away from fatty, processed, or spicy foods.

And, of course, add alcohol, carbonated beverages, and coffee to the list along with artificial sweeteners and caffeine.

Things That Help

Before I get into what you can do at home, I do want to take a moment to say that if you’re experiencing abdominal pain, you need to speak with your doctor.

Since I mentioned the ulcerative colitis commercials earlier, there are ways to treat this disease medically. My suggestions are additional ways to address your pain caused by lupus digestive system. I am by no means suggesting that you use these in the place of the advice of a medically trained doctor. I’m not trained nor qualified to make that suggestion.

For me, personally, I use these tips along with medical advice (for my lupus digestive problems since I don’t suffer from ulcerative colitis). And, I’ve learned these tips from others that use them for ulcerative colitis. Fortunately, for me, my doctor believes in whole health and natural medicine, and discusses these measures with me along with prescription medication.

And, here’s my tips:

  • Add bone broth to your diet
  • Probiotics
  • Fermented foods like kefir
  • L-glutamine
  • Bananas
  • Turmeric
  • Slippery elm
  • Heating pad, heating bag, or warm bath
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Ginger
  • Peppermint
  • Coconut water
  • Aloe Vera juice

Peptic Ulcers

Fourthly, on the list of lupus digestive problems, you might experience peptic ulcers. Admittedly, most often these are a result of the lupus medication you may be taken. For example, NSAIDs and corticosteroids have been known to cause peptic ulcers.

Additionally, peptic ulcers may be caused by bad bacteria in your stomach that causes inflammation.

And, because of these reasons it’s gut pain associated with lupus.

To the point, peptic ulcers are holes in the lining of your stomach.

stomach ulcers may be caused by lupus medication


To me, and I’ve had a stomach ulcer numerous times, it feels like a sharp, stabbing pain. It’s as if someone is taking a knife and stabbing my stomach.

And, the pain starts in the middle of my stomach and travels upward. Or, it can also travel downward or across to the back. More over, the pain feels more intense when the stomach is empty.

In addition to the pain, you can also experience nausea, vomiting, heartburn, indigestion, reflux, bloating, feeling full easily, loss of appetite, and bloody stool.

Things To Avoid

  • Spicy food
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Acidic fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Fatty food
  • Dairy
  • Salty food
  • Stress

Things That Help

In addition to avoiding the triggers, increasing gut healthy foods like bone broth and fermented foods will help.

Also, taking probiotic supplements will help, especially if your ulcer is caused by bad bacteria.

Did you know that your digestive system is part of your immune system?

That’s right. The microbiomes in your gut help fight off infection. Good gut bacteria destroys bad gut bacteria.

If there’s an imbalance, inflammation results.

So, restoring gut health is one of the most important things you can do to address your lupus digestive problems.

Along with gut health, H2 receptor blockers like Zantac can help because it decreases the amount of stomach acid that is produced.

And, of course, increasing ginger, apples, and bananas will help, as well.

More importantly, be sure to drink plenty of water.

Oh, I almost forgot- turmeric and chamomile tea work, as well.


Finally, the last of the lupus digestive problems (the ones that I’m going to mention, at least) is pancreatitis.

Now, pancreatitis isn’t as prominent as the others mentioned, but it does affect men more than women. Thus, it’s made my list (I’m a man with lupus).

Well, that, and the fact that I’ve had pancreatitis before. And, it was no picnic. In fact, it can be very serious and lead to other harmful conditions like diabetes.

In simple terms, pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. And, since the pancreas is involved in the production of digestive enzymes and insulin, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of pancreatitis.

pancreatitus and lupus


  • Upper abdominal pain that reaches to the back- like at the top of your stomach
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Nausea
  • Vomitting
  • Fever
  • Raised heartrate
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss

Things To Avoid

Honestly, if you have pancreatitis, your doctor is probably going to suggest a short fast. This gives your pancreas time to heal. And, this is important because without those digestive enzymes, you won’t digest properly.

But, if your doctor doesn’t advice fasting, then here’s some foods to avoid: nightshades, dairy, gluten, sugar, foods high in fiber, beans, red meat, and organ meat.

Also, avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.

And, stay away from fatty and processed foods. Your digestive system can’t handle these.

Things That Help

  • Eat softer foods
  • Enzyme supplements
  • Fasting and food reintroduction diet
  • Anti-oxidants
  • Foods rich in Vitamins A, E,D,K, and B12.
  • Dandelion tea
  • Licorice root

You Don’t Have To Suffer From Lupus Digestive Problems

Well, that’s my list of lupus digestive problems. But, it’s not exhaustive. There are others that are experienced by lupus patients.

These are just the ones that I’m familiar with: either I have experienced them or others that are close to me have experienced them.

Remember, lupus acts differently in everyone. That’s why it’s important for you to pay attention to your body.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, please see your doctor. Lupus isn’t something to take lightly.

Awareness is the first step. Then, addressing your symptoms follow. My suggestions have been things that have worked for me.

And, while reading this post, I hope you noticed a pattern emerge.

Admittedly, I’m a wholehearted supporter of the lifestyle modification for alleviating lupus pain. I believe diet and exercise.

For me, it’s all about moving from lupus sufferer to lupus warrior. And, lifestyle modification has helped me do that. It has provided me with a better quality of life.

And, it can do the same for you.

If this post has helped you, please share it socially so others can be helped as well. Sharing is the lupus warrior way.

Wishing you better days ahead,


lupus digestive problems- what to do

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