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Academically known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), lupus is one of the many autoimmune disorders and it’s affecting various tissues in the body. The immune system is mistakenly attacking healthy tissue which results in a series of apparently unrelated health issues. The symptoms experienced by sufferers vary in intensity greatly, and the disease is oftentimes undiagnosed until advanced stages. Because the initial symptoms are apparently unrelated, many specialists don’t run tests for lupus until later. Common symptoms include swollen joints, hair loss, swollen lymph nodes, chest pain, tiredness, and one of the first symptoms, rashes, especially on the face, in the form of a butterfly. The causes of lupus remain unknown. Many specialists seem to believe that a combination of genetical and environmental factors are leading to the diseases’ debut. This is explained by the cases of pairs of twins, in which there is a chance of 25% for one to have it, if their siblings are already diagnosed with it. Also, environmental factors, such as sunlight, smoking, female sex hormones, Vitamin D deficiency and certain illnesses caused by infections can contribute to developing this autoimmune disease.
As the Lupus Foundation of America states, approximately more than a million and a half of Americans are suffering from lupus. According to the same foundation, people of African, Asian and Native American descendance are more likely to suffer from it. This is proving the genetical hypothesis when it comes to the factors that lead to the apparition and evolution of SLE. Sex seems to be another determinant factor. Although both men and women are suffering from the condition, more than 90% of the patients are women. Female hormones seem to have their contribution, since most of the women able to bear a child (aged 15 to 45) are more likely to suffer from it.
There are four types of lupus. Below we will be presenting all of those.
Because the most common type of lupus is the systemic one, the rest of this article will be treating that particular type.
Like in any other disorders, the symptoms vary greatly from individual to individual. The number of these symptoms in one particular person can vary as well, from several to nearly all related symptoms. Because it mimics the symptoms of various other illnesses, it has receiver the rightful surname of “the great imitator”. The symptoms are unpredictable and vary incredibly from person to person. Because of this, SLE is oftentimes used as a differential diagnosis. Common initial symptoms, which can remain unlinked to lupus by medical staff are:
Because these symptoms are oftentimes associated with other disorders, many specialists tend to always lose from sight the association of symptoms, which is otherwise suggestive. Also, worth mentioning is the fact that men and women tend to have different symptoms. While in men the most common symptoms are associated with heart issues, blood pressure issues and strokes, women’s symptoms seem to revolve around arthritis, psychiatric issues and low blood cell count. Below are presented some of the most common lupus signs and symptoms.
In order to determine if a patient is suffering from lupus, they must be presenting one or more of the symptoms above. A series of laboratory tests and diagnostic criteria is used.
The treatment for lupus is still developed, specialists trying to create more effective drugs for this disorder. Worth mentioning is the fact that lupus cannot be cured, the treatment prescribed having the only purpose of managing the symptoms. In many cases, the treatment prescribed is with the purpose of reducing the severity of patient’s flares and preventing those. Lupus treatment and care recommendations revolve around prescribing medication, lifestyle changes, kidney transplantation in some severe cases, and implementing management of pregnancy strategies, in the case of the women suffering from it.
The causes that lead to lupus are not entirely known. Many specialists think, however, that it’s an association of environmental and genetical factors. For instance, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Native Americans seem to be more prone to develop the condition than their fellow Europeans. Also, women are more likely to develop it, especially between the ages they are able to bear a child. Feminine hormones seem to be a factor when it comes to the condition’s debut, but also usage of certain drugs. For instance, drugs used for treating various heart, blood pressure or seizure problems seem to contribute to the debut and evolution of the disease, just like certain drugs used for treating tuberculosis do.
Besides proper medications, specialists give some tips and tricks for living with lupus well. Below is a short list of Dos and DON’Ts for those suffering from lupus.
While lupus is not a treatable disease, it can be managed with care and guidance from a specialist. Those suffering from lupus should always attend their scheduled appointments and take their medication as prescribed.
Last updated on March 2nd, 2018