Lupus

Lupus is an inflammatory disease that occurs when the immune system attacks its tissues and organs. This disease is also known as an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is when your immune system accidentally attacks your body.

The body parts susceptible to lupus attacks include the joints and skin. In severe cases, it also attacks the heart, kidneys, brain, lungs, and blood cells. Lupus is a chronic disease that can flare up once or twice a year. During this period, the patient does not feel well and can be disabled depending on the attacked part of the body.

This disease can affect work, family life, and regular activities. It most commonly affects women in their reproductive age and ten times more than men.

Types/Categories of Lupus

Knowing the type of Lupus you are experiencing will help determine your treatment. There are four major types of Lupus, including:

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most common type of Lupus. From the name, “systemic” implies the possibility of affecting multiple organs. 

The SLE is the first type that comes to mind when people hear about Lupus. It primarily affects organs like the skin, joints, and kidneys but can also affect other parts. 

Cutaneous Lupus

Cutaneous Lupus is described as Lupus that affects the skin. There are three types — each type having its lesions, location, and pattern. Sometimes, a skin biopsy is needed to diagnose these types of Lupus. They are:

  • Acute Cutaneous Lupus: This usually generates a butterfly rash on the cheeks and nose. 
  • Chronic Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus: Also referred to as discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), it affects the scalp area, the circular area inside the ear, and sometimes the face. These rashes are thick, round, and scaly.
  • Subacute Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus: This affects the chest, the back, and the neck. The rashes are mostly ring-like or annular. 

Drug-Induced Lupus (DIL)

DIL results from exposure or reaction to a certain drug, which leads to a lupus-like syndrome. It resolves itself after discontinuation of the offending drug. 

Neonatal

This is a rare congenital disorder present at birth. It occurs in 1 out of every 20,000 childbirths in America. Often time, the affected child develops a red rash. However, it could potentially cause congenital heart blockage too. 

Symptoms of Lupus

Symptoms vary, and there is a wide range of them. They include:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Loss of weight
  • Mouth ulcer
  • Rashes
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen leg or around the eyes
  • Swollen glands or lymph nodes
  • Sensitivity to the sun
  • Headaches
  • Chest pain upon deep breathing
  • Unusual hair loss
  • Arthritis
  • Pale or purple fingers or toes 

Diagnosis of Lupus

Diagnosing Lupus may be difficult because of its wide range of symptoms similar to that of other illnesses’. However, there are 11 tests and criteria which need to be evaluated. If the patient meets at least 4 of them, the doctor may think they have Lupus.

The test/symptoms required for Lupus are as follows:

  1. Malar Rash: A butterfly-shaped rash found on the cheeks and nose.
  2. Discoid Rash: The development of red patches.
  3. Mouth or Nose Ulcer: These wounds are usually painless.
  4. Photosensitivity: A rash caused by exposure to sunlight.
  5. Non-Erosive Arthritis: This causes tenderness, swelling, or effusion in two or more peripheral joints but does not cause damage to the bones.
  6. Pericarditis or Pleuritis: They are inflammation that affects the heart’s lining. Pleuritis affects the lungs too.
  7. Kidney Disorder: When a patient’s urine shows a high level of protein or cellular cast, they might have this.
  8. Neurological Disorder: A patient experiences issues such as seizures, psychosis, or reasoning/thinking problems.
  9. Hematologic Disorder: This is when there is a low white-blood-cell count or low platelet count.
  10. Immunologic Disorder: This is shown when antibodies to double-stranded DNA or cardiolipin are found.
  11. Positive ANA: They are antinuclear antibodies found in the blood.

How to Treat Lupus

There is no cure for Lupus, but treatment can manage symptoms and flare-ups. This helps to reduce the chances or risk of organ damage. If the flare is left untreated, it may lead to life-threatening results. Medications are taken to:

  • Reduce pain and swelling
  • Regulate the activity of the immune system
  • Balance hormones changes
  • Reduce or prevent joint and organ damage
  • Manage blood pressure
  • Reduce the risk of infection
  • Control cholesterol

To decide which medication to take, you should consult with your doctor.

How to Manage Lupus

Aside from drugs and medications, the following may help relieve pain and reduce the risk of flare-ups:

  • Application of a hot or cold compress to the affected area (s)
  • Regular exercise
  • Avoidance of exposure to the sun
  • Avoidance of stress
  • Relaxing activities like meditation and yoga

FAQ

  1. Which parts of the body does Lupus affect? Lupus affects the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs.
  2. How long can I live with Lupus? People living with Lupus can have a normal life expectancy.
  3. How do I know if Lupus is affecting my internal organs? Severe symptoms like dizziness, behavioral changes, blurred vision, stroke, or seizures can indicate.
  4. Does Lupus make you gain weight? It can sometimes cause weight gain when the patient manages their disease with steroids, known to cause weight gain.
  5. Is Lupus contagious? The disease is not infectious.

Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment. Always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!

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