One of the most common autoimmune diseases to affect anyone is lupus. Lupus is a disease that is self-destructing and can cause healthy cells to mistakenly attack one another. The sad truth about this disease is that the people most affected are women between the ages of 15-45. Although there are many treatments to help keep lupus in check, there is no cure known to man. Adding lupus onto the list of many incurable diseases is one more reason to help in the search for curable treatments. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that effects different parts of the body including: skin, brain, tissues and kidneys. There are different types of Lupus as well, each with different symptoms to manage and areas of the body it will affect.
Causes and Symptoms
Genetics plays a large role in being a key risk factor of developing lupus. Unfortunately, health professionals and researchers are at a lose as to what causes lupus. Some studies indicate that environmental changes, viruses and infections can contribute to the development of lupus. A few things that can cause lupus to flare up include: the use of certain medications and antibiotics, abnormal hormone levels, infections and overexposure to sunlight.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from the following symptoms, they may have lupus.
- Constant joint pain
- Swelling of the legs, arms and joints
- Persistent headaches
- Dry eyes
- Muscle aches and pains
- Fever without infection
- Feeling sluggish
- Skin rashes
- Raynaud’s phenomenon
- Chest pain
- Memory loss
- Weight gain or loss
- Facial rash in the form of butterfly wings
Types of Lupus
The different types of lupus can be categorized into four groups:
- Cutaneous lupus: When the skin becomes affected by lupus, cutaneous lupus forms. Rashes that appear along the nose, cheeks and skin take the shape of butterfly wings. Almost 10 percent of the population living with lupus have contracted this form of lupus.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus: This is the most common type of lupus. This form of lupus affects the kidneys, nervous system, brain, blood vessels and arteries. Unfortunately, this type of lupus can cause serious and fatal damage to the major organs. The symptoms of this form of lupus can improve, then worsen and improve again over time.
- DILE: Drug-induced lupus erythematosus is caused by the overuse of certain prescription medications. This type of lupus affects more men than women and the symptoms usually disappear within six months’ time. The most common drugs that are associated with this form of lupus include: hydralazine, procainamide and isoniazid.
- Neonatal lupus: This form of lupus is one of the rarest forms because it affects infants who have contracted the disease from their mothers. Neonatal lupus is not the truest form of lupus because an infant has been passed along the disease rather than contradicting it one its own. Most of the symptoms of infants with this form of lupus are completely symptoms free within a year. Just because the symptoms disappear, it does not mean that an infant will not develop lupus on their own in the future.
Even if your doctor suspects you are suffering from lupus, a true confirmation can take months or years to verify. Once physical examinations and blood tests are completed, doctors will value if there is a need for biopsies. Biopsies of the skin and kidney are performed because they give the most accurate results. A mixture of blood tests, medical history, imaging tests and biopsies over a prolonged period is the only way to confirm a lupus diagnosis.
Different types of lupus require different treatments. Patients may be advised to see more than one specialist to treat their symptoms. A rheumatologist is the key doctor in treated patients with lupus that affects like joints. The best way to treat lupus is to prevent additional flares, reduce and control the organ and joint damage, help prepare the immune system from future attacks and reduce the pain. Unfortunately, lupus is an incurable disease that slowly chips away at a person’s healthy life. But there is always hope that one day a cure will be found.