What is Lupus?
Lupus is also known as systemic lupus erythematosus. It is a chronic autoimmune disease which can affect many body parts, Such as joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, or brain.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation to entire your body. An autoimmune disease is a condition where your body’s own immune system is responsible for the inflammation and breakdown of its own cells.
When lupus occurs, the immune system of the body malfunctions, means, though it is responsible for fighting off viruses, bacteria, and germs and protecting the body, it adversely starts to attack your own body’s healthy tissues.
In this disease, the immune system becomes proactive as opposed to the condition of HIV where it becomes underactive. This disease can range from mild to life-threatening and cause permanent organ damage.
However, many individuals with lupus facing a mild version of the disease. Currently, there’s no proper and known cure/ Treatment for lupus.
How does lupus occur?
The immune system of our body is responsible for producing antibodies which fight against antigens and protect the body against any infections.
Lupus develops when the immune system of the body malfunctions and is unable to differentiate between antigens and healthy tissue.
During Such condition, the immune system, in fact, directs antibodies attacks the healthy tissue in our bodies, along with the antigens, causing swelling, pain, and tissue damage.
Types of lupus
Type of Lupus are as below:
It is the inflammation of the kidney that is caused by systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
This condition affects newborn babies.
Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus:
This condition causes skin sores on areas of the body when it exposed to the sun.
Discoid lupus erythematosus:
It causes a skin rash which doesn’t easily disappear.
This can be caused due to certain medicines.
What causes Lupus?
The cause of lupus in most of the cases is unknown. A few possible triggers are:
A family history of lupus can make you more susceptible to this disease.
Contracting an infection may initiate lupus or cause a relapse.
Exposure to sunlight can cause a response in susceptible people. Skin lesions appear in such condition.
Both men and women produce estrogen hormone, however, its production is very greater in females.
Many women experience symptoms of lupus before menstrual cycle and/or during pregnancy when estrogen production is high.
This may indicate that estrogen somehow responsible for the severity of lupus, however, researchers have not yet found any link between estrogen, or any other hormone, and lupus.
Some medicines such as anti-seizure medications and antibiotics may cause lupus can be triggered by certain types of blood pressure medications. These people usually get better after they stop taking the medicines.
Who is on risk to lupus?
The risk of developing lupus is higher in:
- People are of black ancestry
- People between the ages of 15 and 45
- Who have a family history of lupus
- Who take medicines that are associated with drug-induced systemic lupus.
What are the symptoms of lupus?
The most common symptoms of lupus are:
- Joint pain, stiffness
- A butterfly-shaped rash on the face which covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose
- Skin lesions that occur due to exposure to the sunlight
- Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during the stressful periods
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Dry eyes
- Memory loss
How is lupus diagnosed?
Lupus having different and often confusing symptoms in the body, so it may take some time for a doctor to diagnose it. In fact, this condition is known as ‘the great imitator’ as its symptoms mimic many other illnesses.
Usually, a GP can diagnose lupus. Depending on the severity of your disease he may refer you to other specialists including..
For diagnosing lupus your doctor will check your present symptoms such as pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function at a particular place in the body. He will also check your complete medical history, and if you have a family history of lupus.
There is no single diagnostic test for systemic lupus, but, the test usually suggested by doctors for lupus is called the antinuclear antibody test (ANA Test).
This is not a specific test for lupus, but this test along with many other laboratory tests can build up a picture providing more accurate information to your doctor and finally confirm if it is lupus.
Other tests include:
- Blood test (for complete blood count)
- Kidney and liver assessment
- Chest X-Ray
- Skin biopsy
What are the complications of lupus?
Some major complications of lupus are:
- Risk of bleeding
- Blood clotting
- Inflammation of blood vessels
- Kidney damage or kidney failure
- Inflammation of chest cavity lining -pleurisy
- Behavior changes
- Strokes or seizures.
- Inflammation of the heart muscle
- Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases or heart attacks
Treatment of Lupus
Medical Treatment for Lupus
Depending on the severity of your disease, your doctor can prescribe medicines in order to suppress the immune system, reduce inflammation, and treat pain, swelling, and fever associated with lupus.
Examples of lupus treatment medications are:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Antimalarial medications
- DHEA, a male hormone that can reduce some lupus effects, such as hair loss
- Immunosuppressive drugs
Research indicates that lupus patients who exercise build stronger muscles, prevent joint stiffness, control fatigue, and avoid weight gain.
Before deciding on an exercise regimen, make sure to discuss with your doctor to find out what type of exercises suit you the best since some movements can be harmful if you have swollen joints or muscle pain.
Some exercises that you can consider are:
- Tai Chi
Doctors can also recommend lifestyle changes, such as avoiding excessive exposure to ultraviolet sunlight.
Some individuals take supplements in addition to their medications to reduce lupus symptoms such as flaxseed, fish oil, and vitamin D.
Life with Lupus
Newly medical innovations and improvements in diagnostic testing techniques help people with lupus are living longer than ever.
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, an estimated 80% to 90% of people diagnosed with lupus will live a normal lifespan.
Those who have severe lupus symptoms and who experience a severe flare-up are at greater risk for complications than those with mild to moderate symptoms of lupus.
Prevention Tips of Lupus
Almost all types of lupus condition aren’t preventable except the medications known to cause drug-induced lupus. A person should engage in preventive measures that reduce the symptoms or severity of the disease.
- Avoiding direct sunlight
- Stress management
- Avoid infections
Read: Best and Easy Tips for Healthy Life
Diet for Lupus
There is no proper establishment of lupus diet. However, there are some foods that those with lupus should generally avoid, mostly due to the medications they take. Examples are alcohol, which interacts negatively with many NSAIDs and can cause side effects like gastrointestinal bleeding.
Avoiding foods which are high in salt and cholesterol not only is beneficial for a person’s health but also helps to prevent bloating because of corticosteroid use.
Other healthy foods to reduce inflammation in the body for those who have lupus are:
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids includes salmon, tuna, or mackerel
- Foods high in calcium include low-fat dairy products
- Eating whole-grain
- Eating fruits and vegetables
Is lupus curable?
Currently, there is no accurate and proper cure for lupus. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, an estimated 80% to 90% of people living with lupus can live a normal life span with treatment and regular follow-up.
However, research regularly explores promising innovations techniques in lupus treatment.
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