According to the Lupus Foundation of America, about 1.5 million Americans suffer from lupus. About 5 million people worldwide have the disease. Of these people, 90 percent are women who developed the condition between 15 and 44 or during childbearing age. But do you really know what lupus is?
What is Lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its tissues or organs. It can also cause inflammation that may affect various parts and systems of the body, such as skin, kidney, heart, lungs, blood cells, and joints.
Lupus is not easy to diagnose because its signs and symptoms are similar to other illnesses. However, lupus has a significant symptom—a facial rash that looks like a butterfly wing occurring at both cheeks—takes place in many but not all lupus cases.
Some people are born with a high risk of developing lupus, triggered by sunlight, drug use, or infections. And while there is currently no cure for lupus, some treatments can help manage its symptoms.
It’s important to note that lupus affects people in different ways and that there are no two cases of lupus that are the same. Its signs and symptoms may occur suddenly or slowly develop, it can be mild or severe, and lastly, some are temporary while others are permanent. However, most people with lupus have mild disease distinguished by episodes known as flares.
Generally, the symptoms will vary. It will depend on the body systems that are affected by the disease. But the common signs may include the following:
- Stiffness, swelling, and joint pain
- Butterfly-shaped rashes on the face, covering the cheeks and nose bridge
- Skin lesions that occur when exposed to the sun
- Shortness of breath
- Dry eyes
- Chest pain
- Memory loss, confusion, and headaches
If you suspect that you have lupus, make sure to take note of your symptoms accordingly so you can get the proper treatment for this autoimmune disease. As mentioned, lupus affects people differently, so personalized treatment is a must.
See a doctor if you are experiencing a sudden rash, constant fever, fatigue, pain, and continuous aching.
The general cause of lupus is when the immune system attacks the healthy tissues in the body. People may develop lupus due to a combination of environmental and genetic triggers.
Some studies show that people who develop lupus due to genetic factors experience the symptoms when exposed to an environment that triggers the disease. Sadly, the causes of some rare lupus cases are still unknown. Here are some potential triggers of lupus:
- Medication: Lupus can be triggered by specific types of medicines for blood pressure. Antibiotics and anti-seizure medications can also trigger the disease. The good news is that drug-induced lupus may disappear or get better once you stop taking the drugs that trigger it. However, the symptoms may persist despite stopping the medication in some cases.
- Sunlight exposure: Being exposed to the sun may trigger internal lupus response or lupus skin lesions. Staying away from too much sun exposure is highly recommended to prevent the symptoms.
- Infections: Infections may either cause lupus relapse or be the cause of lupus.
Three main factors may increase your risk of developing lupus. These include the following:
- Gender: Lupus is more common in women than men.
- Age: While lupus may affect people of all ages, it will most likely develop between 15 and 45.
- Race: Data shows that lupus is more common in Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans.
Inflammation associated with lupus can affect different areas of the body, including the following:
- Blood and blood vessels: Sadly, lupus might lead to several blood problems, such as a low number of red blood cells, blood clotting, and risk of bleeding.
- Kidneys: Severe cases of lupus can cause serious kidney problems, like kidney failure. This is the most common cause of death among lupus patients.
- Lungs: Lupus can also put you at risk of developing inflammation in the chest cavity lining, resulting in shortness of breath. Pneumonia and bleeding of the lungs are also possible.
- Brain and central nervous system: When lupus affects your brain, you will experience dizziness, vision problems, headaches, strokes, seizures, and behavior changes. Many people with lupus experience difficulty expressing their emotions and memory problems.
- Heart: Lupus can result in the inflammation of heart muscle, arteries, and heart membrane. You may also be at risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease.
Additionally, possible yet rare complications may include:
- pregnancy problems,
- bone tissues death, and
Last but not least, keep in mind that some forms of lupus can be fatal, particularly if it’s starting to affect internal organs. Early diagnosis and proper treatment are crucial to ensure a healthy recovery and a long life.