When you’re living with a chronic illness, finding the right treatment makes a huge difference in your day-to-day life. Yet most drugs, no matter how beneficial, come with trade-offs, including potential side effects that take some getting used to. It’s something Selena Gomez has grappled with publicly for years.
The 30-year-old singer has lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation in many parts of the body, such as skin, joints, heart, kidneys, lungs, etc. This leads to an array of symptoms and possible complications, such as persistent pain, overwhelming fatigue, skin rashes, frequent fevers, kidney damage, heart problems, and mental health conditions like depression, among others.
While her health is no one’s business, Gomez has been open about her condition and how it’s affecting her physically and emotionally. « My lupus, my kidney transplant, my chemotherapy, my mental illness, my very public heartaches, these are all things that, honestly, should have knocked me down, » she said. She in 2021. But she was like, « ‘You’re going to help people,' » she recalls. “That’s really what kept me going.
She always stays true to that sentiment. Recently, the Rare Beauty founder addressed the relentless and unsolicited comments she’s received about her body, which, to be clear, is something no one should ever have to explain. During a livestream on TikTok, which was later posted on TwitterGomez said she tends to « hold a lot of water weight » when taking a certain medication, though she didn’t specify the type.
“I just wanted to…encourage anyone who feels some kind of shame for what exactly they’re going through, and nobody knows the real story,” she said.
There are various medications that can help treat lupus, and they all have potential side effects that go beyond weight fluctuations.
Lupus impacts each person differently, so treatment regimens are also « highly individualized, » Margo Bowman, PharmD, director of clinical pharmacy services at Corewell Health in Grand Rapids, Mich., tells SELF.
Many people with lupus are on hydroxychloroquinea disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD), which helps control inflammation and reduce the risk of flare-ups or periods when the disease is active and causing symptoms Lynn Ludmer, MD, medical director of the department of rheumatology at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, tells SELF. “It is known to increase lifespan and reduce the risk of brain and kidney disease,” she says. « After that, it depends on the particular type of lupus a person has, and the right medication varies from person to person. »
Corticosteroids can also be used short-term to fight inflammation and control symptoms. « These drugs are very important to allow us to ‘put out the fire’ immediately, » says Dr. Ludmer. These are quite potent drugs, so experts try to prescribe them at “the lowest dose for the shortest duration,” she adds.
Indeed, long-term use of corticosteroids is linked to a host of potential side effects – and some degree of weight fluctuation is what many people who take them experience, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.