Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that occurs when your body’s immune system begin to attack your own organs and tissues. Lupus occurs when something goes wrong with the immune system and begins to attack healthy cells and tissues. This can lead to damage in many parts of the body such as lungs, heart, joints, skin, kidneys, blood vessels and even brain.
Lupus is known as a chronic disease, which means that the signs and the symptoms of this disease tend to last longer more than 6 weeks and often for many years. The signs and symptoms of this disease often mimic those of other diseases which often make it difficult to diagnose.
Symptoms of Lupus
The major symptom of lupus is a facial rash which resembles the wings of a butterfly that looks like unfolding across the both cheeks. This symptom occurs in many cases of the disease, but not all of them.
Other symptoms of lupus include:
- Joint Pain
- Hair Loss
- Loss Of Appetite
- Raynaud’s Phenomenon
Other lesser known symptoms of lupus include:
- Dizzy spells
- Feeling sad
Causes of Lupus
Researchers are yet to understand what exactly causes lupus. However, it is believed that genes play a role that leads to it. Gene alone do not determine who suffers from lupus, other factor also contribute to trigger this disease.
Types of Lupus
There are about 5 known type of lupus. The most common type is the systemic lupus erythematosus which affects most parts of the body. Other types include:
Discoid lupus erythematosus: This type of lupus causes skin rash that is hard to go away.
Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus: Leads to serious sores on skin parts that are exposed to the sun.
Drug-induced lupus: This type of lupus can be caused by medications
Neonatal lupus: This is rare type of lupus, it usually affect newborns.
Prevalence of Lupus
Anyone whether old or young is at danger of suffering from lupus; however research shows that it mostly affects women. This disease is more common among women of African American, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American descent than in Caucasian women.
Research reveals that more than 1.5 million Americans are living with this disease with more than 16,000 new cases reported annually across the country. Globally, it is believed that about 5 million are suffering from one type of lupus or another.
Treatment of Lupus
Treatment usually depends on the specific signs and symptoms the patient is showing. Some of medications are commonly used by doctors in controlling the symptoms include:
1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
This type of drug can be gotten over-the-counter, it includes naproxen sodium (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others). It is used in treatment of swelling, pain and fever associated with lupus.
2. Antimalarial medications
Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) which is used in treatment of malaria can also be used to control lupus.
Corticosteroids such as Prednisone can be used to counter the inflammation caused by lupus however it comes with side effects such as weight gain, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Serious cases of lupus require drugs that can suppress the immune system. Example of such drugs includes mycophenolate (CellCept), leflunomide (Arava), methotrexate (Trexall) and azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan).