Lupus is derived from the Latin word “Wolf” due to the fact that it causes skin lesions or marks over the face and other parts of the body which look like the bite marks of a wolf.

SIMPLE FACTS ABOUT LUPUS:

Lupus is a disease which affects the immune system. In normal circumstances, the immune system protects our body from any foreign objects be it living (Virus, bacteria, fungus etc) or nonliving (drugs, pollens). It has self tolerance, i.e. it recognizes the body’s own tissues and does not react to it, and makes antibodies against the invading or foreign substances. However, this function is highly regulated and is controlled by the body’s genes and its products. Sometimes, because of unknown triggers or some disturbances at the micro level, this highly regulated mechanism gets deregulated and the body stops recognizing its own tissues and perceives them as foreign, thereby manufacturing antibodies against its own tissues. When these antibodies start attacking the body’s own tissues, it causes inflammation there, thereby damaging the tissues. This phenomenon is called autoimmunity. When multiple organs and tissues are attacked simultaneously or at different times, the disease is called Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).

  • Lupus is NOT infectious, rare or cancerous.
  • Although the cause of lupus is unknown, scientists suspect that individuals are genetically predisposed to lupus. It is important to note that environmental factors such as infections, antibiotics, ultraviolet light, extreme stress and certain drugs play a critical role in triggering lupus.
  • Lupus strikes adult women 10 to 15 times more frequently than adult men.
  • Lupus is more prevalent in African Americans, Hispanics and Asians. African American women are three times more likely to get lupus than Caucasian women. Both African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos tend to develop lupus at a younger age and have more symptoms at diagnosis (including kidney problems).
  • Only 10% of people with lupus will have a close relative (parent or sibling) who already has or may develop lupus. Only about 5% of the children born to individuals with lupus will develop the illness.
  • Sometimes people with lupus experience a “flare” which is basically the occurrence of some symptoms for short periods which then disappear. Even if you take medicine for lupus, you may find that there are times when the symptoms become worse. Learning to recognize that a flare is coming can help you take steps to cope with it. Many people feel very tired or have pain, a rash, a fever, stomach discomfort, headache, or dizziness just before a flare.
  • Lupus can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms come and go and mimic those of many other illnesses. Some symptoms of lupus can be transient such as joint and muscle pain, fatigue, a rash caused or made worse by sunlight, low-grade fevers, hair loss, pleurisy, appetite loss, sores in the nose or mouth, or painful sensitivity of the fingers in cold environments.
  • Symptoms of lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and thousands die from lupus complications each year.
  • With optimal care, most women with lupus can have healthy babies without endangering their own health.

What are the various types of Lupus?
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus – known as SLE, it is the most common form of Lupus. Systemic means that it can affect many parts of the body such as the joints, skin, kidneys, lungs and heart or even the brain. If not treated properly, it can cause damage to the organs inside your body.

Discoid and Cutaneous Lupus – usually affects the skin. The person suffering from this disease can have red rashes or discoloration of the skin on the scalp, face, or any other part of the body. These skin rashes don’t go away.

Drug-induced lupus – is caused by a number of medicines and that’s why it is known as drug-induced. The person suffering from drug-induced Lupus may have symptoms similar to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus but is less serious and can be cured with the discontinuation of the drugs. The common drugs that can cause lupus are procainamide, which is prescribed for heart disease, hydralazine, which is prescribed for high blood pressure etc. Drug-induced lupus is commonly found in older men and women of all the races.

Neonatal Lupus, which is very rare and usually affects newborns.

Treatment:
There is no known cure for Lupus, but there are various effective treatments for Lupus. Most of the symptoms of Lupus loops around swelling and so the treatment that focuses on reducing the swelling can be administered.

How is lupus diagnosed?
The patient with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) can have variety of symptoms and no single test can determine the diagnosis of lupus.

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