Let’s Talk Lupus
If you’ve ever come across the word “Lupus”, short for systemic lupus erythematosus, then you must already known lupus.
it’s a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system can’t properly distinguish between its own cells and harmful substances.
The immune system indistinguishably attacks otherwise healthy cells, leading to inflammation and damage to various body tissues( how sad is that).
A rough sketch of 1.5 million people are affected by lupus in the world today .
The exact number is hard to calculate because lupus is a complex disease that can present a wide range of symptoms, and no two cases are exactly the same.
Who Does It Affect?
Lupus primarily affects young women ages 15 to 44, and it is more common and severe among nonwhite populations around the world.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC also notes that women are five times more likely than men to die from lupus.
Symptoms of lupus
Lupus is characterized by periods of illness, known as “flares,” and periods of remission, though the symptoms can vary greatly from person to person.
The most common symptoms are
- painful or swollen joints (arthritis),
- unexplained fever and extreme fatigue
- according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).
- About half of patients with lupus will experience skin rashes, specifically “butterfly” rashes that span the cheeks and the bridge of the nose or that may spread to other body parts, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These rashes appear when the patient exposes himself to sunlight.
Other symptoms, which depend on how widespread the disease is within the body, may include mild cognitive impairment.
fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud’s phenomenon), chest pain, hair loss, personality change, seizures and vision problems.
Diagnosis & Tests:
Diagnosis can be very difficult because it has so many symptoms.
If the patient exhibits at least four of these conditions, he or she may have lupus:
- Rashes: butterfly-shaped rash over the cheeks (referred to as malar rash), red rash with raised round or oval patches (known as discoid rash) or rash on skin exposed to the sun
- Mouth sores: sores in the mouth or nose lasting from a few days to more than a month
- Arthritis: tenderness and swelling lasting for a few weeks in two or more joints.
- Lung or heart inflammation: Swelling of the tissue lining the lungs (pleurisy or pleuritis) or the heart (pericarditis), which can cause chest pain when breathing deeply.
- Kidney problem: blood or protein in the urine, or tests that suggest poor kidney function
- Neurologic problem: seizures, strokes or psychosis
- Abnormal results on blood tests, including: Low red-blood-cell count (anemia), low white-blood-cell count (leukopenia) or low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
tests for lupus
Positive antinuclear antibody (ANA), present in nearly all patients with lupus, Certain antibodies that show an immune system problem: anti-double-strand DNA (called anti-dsDNA).
anti-Smith (referred to as anti-Sm) or antiphospholipid antibodies, or a false-positive blood test for syphilis.
“There is no single test for lupus, but there are several laboratory tests that can help a doctor confirm a diagnosis or rule out other possible causes”, according to the NIAMS.
The most common lab test detects autoantibodies that are often present in the blood of people with lupus. There are other tests that can detect individual types of autoantibodies that are common with lupus.
Treatment & Medication:
There is currently no cure for lupus. However, medication can help manage and relieve the symptoms coupled with regular follow-up and treatment by rheumatologists and other physicians specializing in different aspects of the disease.
Doctors determine treatment depending on which organs are affected and how active the flares occur.
Three types of drugs are commonly use to treat the symptoms of lupus:
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, naproxen sodium (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin);
- corticosteroids (Prednisone) to counteract swelling; and antimalarial drugs such as hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil). In severe cases that involve the kidneys or the central nervous system, more aggressive treatment may be needed.”
- Immunosuppressive drugs, such as cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) and azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan), may be prescribed to restrain overreactive immune systems, according to the NIAMS.
Contrary to what you may think ,It’s no death sentence. People with lupus can maintain a high quality of life.
Patients can make their lives easier by understanding the disease, learning to recognize the warning signs of a flare and taking care of their bodies.
Although due to the nature and the cost of the medication, patients may want to supplement their regular medication with alternate therapies, such as special diets, nutritional supplements, chiropractic treatments and homeopathy. These are also healthy options.