Saturday, 13 January 2018

What Lupus Disease Is, Symptoms, Types & Warnings



Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body ( skin, joints , and/or organs). "Chronic" means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years.
In lupus, something goes wrong with the immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs ("foreign invaders," like the flu). Normally our immune systems produce proteins called "antibodies" which protect the body from these invaders. "Autoimmunity" means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues ("auto" means "self"). As a result, it creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue.

These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body. Because the antibodies and accompanying cells of inflammation can affect tissues anywhere in the body, lupus has the potential to affect a variety of areas. Sometimes lupus can cause disease of the skin, heart, lungs  , kidneys, joints, and/or nervous system. When only the skin is involved by rash , the condition is called lupus dermatitis or cutaneous lupus erythematosus. A form of lupus dermatitis that can be isolated to the skin, without internal disease, is called discoid lupus erythematosus. When internal organs are involved, the condition is referred to as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Both discoid lupus erythematosus and systemic lupus are more common in women than men (about eight times more common). The disease can affect all ages but most commonly begins from 20-45 years of age. Statistics demonstrate that lupus is somewhat more frequent in African Americans and people of Chinese and Japanese descent.

Symptoms Of Lupus Disease
No two cases of lupus are exactly alike. Signs and symptoms may come on suddenly or develop slowly, may be mild or severe, and may be temporary or permanent. Most people with lupus have mild disease characterized by episodes  called flares  when signs and symptoms get worse for a while, then improve or even disappear completely for a time. Common lupus complaints and symptoms and signs include -
◾Fatigue or feeling tired
◾Low-grade fever
◾Loss of appetite
◾Muscle aches
◾Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure (photosensitivity)
◾Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud's phenomenon)


◾Shortness of breath
◾Chest pain
◾Dry eyes
◾Headaches, confusion and memory loss
◾Ulcers of the mouth and nose
◾Facial rash ("butterfly rash")
◾Chest pain caused by inflammation of the lining that surrounds the lungs (pleuritis) and the heart (pericarditis)
◾Poor circulation to the fingers and toes with cold exposure (Raynaud's phenomenon).
◾Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
◾Butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose or rashes elsewhere on the body.

Types of lupus

This is more severe than discoid lupus because it can affect any of the body's organs or organ systems. Some people may present inflammation or other problems with only skin and joints, while other SLE sufferers will see joints, lungs, kidneys, blood, and/or the heart affected. This type of lupus is also often characterized by periods of flare (when the disease is active) and periods of remission (when the disease is dormant).

Drug-induced lupus
This is caused by a reaction with certain prescription drugs and causes symptoms very similar to SLE. The drugs most commonly associated with this form of lupus are a hypertension medication called hydralazine and a heart arrhythmia medication called procainamide, but there are some 400 other drugs that can also cause the condition. Drug-induced lupus is known to subside after the patient stops taking the triggering medication.

Based on the results of a survey from the Lupus Foundation of America, around 72% of Americans aged 18-34 have either not heard of the disease or know nothing about it other than the name, despite this age group being at greatest risk for the condition.
Lupus gained more attention from the public in 2015 after singer Selena Gomez announced she had been diagnosed with the condition in her late teens and underwent treatment for the disease. Lupus is not like or related to cancer. Cancer is a condition of malignant, abnormal tissues that grow rapidly and spread into surrounding tissues. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, as described above. However, some treatments for lupus may include immunosuppressant drugs that are also used in chemotherapy.


Author: Richard Smith