What Is Lupus and Types Of Lupus?
Lupus is an immune system disorder also known as systemic lupus erythematosus. When immune cells attack the healthy tissues of the body, tissue damage and inflammation are caused. Usually, the symptoms are restricted to the skin, but may also cause internal problems like joint pain. Severe cases also damage kidneys, heart, and other vital organs.
Lupus usually means systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which is the most common and serious type. Other types include Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (or discoid lupus) that doesn’t cause any organ damage. Drug-induced systemic lupus is also observed in people ingesting certain medications. Drug-induced lupus can occur on the usage of some medications (such as hydralazine and procainamide).
The exact cause of lupus is not known. However, factors like genetic makeup, viruses, environmental chemicals contribute to the disease. As per the data from the Lupus Foundation of America, around 1.5 million people in the US have lupus. Lupus mainly affects women 10 times more often than men. Female hormones are believed to play the main role.
The risk is higher if you are:
- Asian, African-American, Latino
- Between 20 and 40 years of age
- Genetical lupus
Symptoms Of Lupus:
The major symptoms of Lupus are seen in the form of skin rashes, which are usually called as lupus skin rashes. However, other symptoms also accompany.
1. Joint Pain is a lupus sign. It is caused on both the sides of the body simultaneously and occurs in fingers, hands, wrists, and knees. Joints look inflamed and warm to touch.
2. Butterfly Rash (malar rash) is another Lupus symptom that forms a butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and bridge other noses. Sensitivity to the sun, scaly purple rash or red spots across the body parts like neck, face, and arms are other symptoms.
4. Fatigue and fever: Fatigue and fever may be associated with lupus. At times fatigue may also interfere with the daily activities and exercise. Some people experience a low-grade unexplained fever every now and then.
5. Sensitivity to light: People suffering from lupus are highly sensitive to ultraviolet light and sun. Exposure to sunlight may trigger skin rash and may worsen existing symptoms.
6. Hair loss: This lupus symptoms tend to come and go. At times, the patients may observe hair falling in patches or thinner hair across the scalp. New hair may begin to grow back when the flare-up is over.
7. Raynaud’s phenomenon: It is a phenomenon where the toes and fingers turn numb, painful and tingly due to emotional stress or cold temperatures. This phenomenon occurs due to a restriction of the blood flow and spasm in small blood vessels. The toes and fingers turn blue or white during the attack.
Can Lupus Be Cured?
How To Diagnose Lupus?
It may get tricky to diagnose lupus as the symptoms indicate some other medical conditions too. For example, the symptoms like swelling and joint pain resemble the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. However, the combination of fatigue, joint pain, and skin rashes may set apart Lupus.
A blood test for antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) can be a clue for lupus. Other lab tests test for kidney functioning, cell counts, and clotting time. A tissue biopsy may help with diagnosis.
Medical Treatments for Lupus
Self-Care for Lupus:
- Cover up when exposed to the sun
- Quit smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Improve stress management skills
- Rest enough
Note: Some people with lupus require 12 hours a night sleep.
Complications Associated With Lupus:
- As lupus progresses, it may interfere with various organs of the body. Three in four lupus patients develop kidney problems. The problems are not evident, but may show up as swelling in ankles and legs.
- In many cases, lupus is also associated with heart problems like a formation of the sac around the heart, causing severe pain in the chest. Lupus patients are likely to develop plaques that clog arteries, resulting in coronary artery disease.
- In many lupus patients, the lungs become inflamed, leading to chest pain, painful breathing, etc
- Some may experience digestive system problems like belly pain, vomiting, nausea, liver inflammation, swallowing difficulty, or pancreas.
- Some lupus patients may also tend to reduce weight during the flare ups.
- Anemia may be observed in some lupus patients as the body is quickly destroying red blood cells than replacing.
- Different nervous system problems like headaches are triggered.
- The disease may also be related to memory problems, anxiety, depression and also seizures.
- In most cases, babies born to women with lupus are totally healthy. In a few cases, the newborn may show neonatal lupus.