Lupus - the disease that's like a rollercoaster ride, but not the fun kind! It is actually a serious autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide.
The disorder lupus is brought on when the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs (autoimmune disease). Your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs are just a few of the body systems that can become inflamed as a result of lupus.
Why Does the Immune System Go Wrong?
Although researchers believe it is caused by a variety of circumstances, they do not yet fully understand what causes lupus.
Cell death, a normal process that takes place as the body renews its cells, is one theory that has been put forth. According to research, individuals with lupus may have improper cell-death clearance due to hereditary reasons.
The lingering dead cells could result in the creation of autoantibodies like ANAs that assault the body and cause lupus symptoms.
Types of Lupus
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most common type of lupus, comprising 70% of lupus cases.
However, there are several other types of lupus, including:
Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE): A type of lupus that affects only the skin, causing rashes and other skin problems.
Drug-induced lupus: This type of lupus is caused by certain medications and can disappear once the medication is stopped.
Neonatal lupus: A rare type of lupus that affects infants of women who have lupus.
Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE): A type of lupus that primarily affects the skin, causing red, scaly patches.
Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE): A type of lupus that causes red, scaly, and thickened patches on the skin, usually on the face, neck, and scalp.
Lupus nephritis: A type of lupus that affects the kidneys.
Central nervous system (CNS) lupus: A type of lupus that affects the brain and nervous system.
What Causes Lupus?
The exact cause of lupus is not yet fully understood, but it is believed to result from a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors.
Some of the factors that are thought to contribute to the development of lupus include:
Genetics: Lupus can run in families, and certain genes may increase the risk of developing the disease.
Hormones: Lupus is more common in women than men, and the disease often flares up during pregnancy or after menopause, suggesting that hormonal factors may play a role.
Environmental triggers: Exposure to certain environmental factors, such as ultraviolet light, infections, medications, and chemicals, can trigger the onset of lupus in people who are genetically predisposed to the disease.
Immune system dysfunction: In people with lupus, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and organs, leading to inflammation and tissue damage.
Other medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as viral infections, can trigger the onset of lupus or cause lupus symptoms to worsen.
Overall, the development of lupus is likely to be the result of a complex interplay between genetic, hormonal, environmental, and immune system factors.
Factors that may increase your risk of lupus include:
Your sex. Lupus is more common in women.
Age. Although lupus affects people of all ages, its most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 45.
Race. Lupus is more common in African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans.
Transmission of Lupus
Lupus is not contagious and cannot be transmitted from one person to another. While some research suggests that certain viruses or infections may play a role in triggering lupus in people who are genetically predisposed, there is no evidence to suggest that lupus can be transmitted from person to person through contact or exposure.
Signs and Symptoms of Lupus
Lupus is a complex and variable disease, meaning that it can affect different people in different ways. Some people may experience mild symptoms, while others may have severe and life-threatening complications. The symptoms of lupus can also come and go over time, making it difficult to diagnose and manage.
Here are some of the common symptoms of lupus:
Fatigue - feeling tired or exhausted, even after getting enough rest.
Joint pain and swelling - joint pain and stiffness, especially in the fingers, wrists, and knees.
Skin rash - a butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose, as well as rashes on other parts of the body.
Fever - a low-grade fever that comes and goes.
Sensitivity to sunlight - skin rash or other symptoms may be triggered by exposure to sunlight.
Hair loss - hair loss or thinning.
Raynaud's phenomenon - fingers and toes turning white or blue in response to cold or stress.
Mouth sores - sores in the mouth or nose.
Chest pain - chest pain when breathing deeply or coughing.
Kidney problems - inflammation of the kidneys can cause blood and protein in the urine.
Neurological symptoms - headaches, seizures, or vision problems.
It is important to note that many of these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, and that not all people with lupus will experience all of these symptoms. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to talk to a healthcare provider for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.
Lupus-related inflammation can impact a variety of bodily parts, including:
• Kidneys. Serious kidney damage can result from lupus, and kidney failure is one of the major reasons why patients with lupus pass away.
• Brain and central nervous system. You may encounter headaches, dizziness, behavioural changes, vision issues, strokes, or seizures if your brain is impacted by lupus. Many lupus patients have memory issues and may struggle to verbalise their thoughts.
• Blood and blood vessels. Anemia (low levels of healthy red blood cells) and an elevated risk of bleeding or blood clotting are two blood issues that lupus may cause. Blood vessel inflammation may also result from it.
• Lungs. Having lupus raises your risk of developing a chest cavity lining inflammation, which can make breathing difficult. Also possible are pneumonia and bleeding into the lungs.
• Heart. Your heart muscle, arteries, or heart membrane may become inflamed as a result of lupus. Moreover, there is a significant rise in the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular illness.
• Pregnancy complications. Preterm birth, pregnancy loss, and preeclampsia - a serious illness that includes high blood pressure - are all more common in lupus patients. Doctors frequently advise postponing conception until the lupus has been under control for at least six months to lower the chance of these complications.
Lupus can be a serious and potentially life-threatening disease, but it is not necessarily deadly for everyone who has it. The severity of lupus and the risk of death can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including the type and extent of organ involvement, the effectiveness of treatment, and the overall health of the person with lupus.
Diagnosis for Lupus
The diagnosis of lupus is based on a combination of symptoms, physical examination, and laboratory tests. Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can vary widely from person to person, and there is no single test that can confirm the diagnosis. However, there are several tests that can help healthcare providers diagnose lupus, including:
Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test - a blood test that looks for antibodies that attack the nuclei of cells in the body. A positive ANA test does not necessarily mean a person has lupus, but it is often an indication that further testing is needed.
Blood tests - to look for abnormalities in the blood, such as low red blood cell count, low platelet count, or increased levels of certain proteins.
Kidney function tests - to check for signs of kidney damage.
Imaging tests - such as X-rays, ultrasounds, or CT scans, to look for signs of inflammation or damage in the organs.
Skin biopsy - a small sample of skin is taken and examined under a microscope to look for signs of lupus-related skin changes.
Joint aspiration - a sample of fluid is taken from an inflamed joint and examined under a microscope to look for signs of inflammation.
It is important to see a healthcare provider who specializes in lupus for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
There is currently no cure for lupus, but treatment can help control inflammation, prevent flare-ups, and reduce the risk of complications, depending on the severity and type of symptoms, as well as the individual's overall health status. Treatment may involve a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and regular monitoring by a healthcare provider.
Here are some common treatments for lupus:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) - these medications can help relieve joint pain and swelling.
Antimalarial drugs - such as hydroxychloroquine, can help reduce inflammation and prevent flare-ups.
Corticosteroids - such as prednisone, can help reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system.
Immunosuppressive drugs - such as azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil, and cyclophosphamide, can help suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation.
Biologic drugs - such as belimumab, can help reduce inflammation by targeting specific immune system molecules.
Sun protection - protecting the skin from sunlight can help prevent flare-ups of skin symptoms.
Exercise and healthy eating - regular exercise and a balanced diet can help maintain overall health and reduce the risk of complications.
Regular medical check-ups - people with lupus need to have regular check-ups to monitor their condition and adjust their treatment as needed.
It's important to note that many people with lupus can live long and healthy lives with appropriate medical care and self-management. Treatment for lupus has improved significantly in recent years, and many people are able to manage their symptoms effectively and prevent serious complications.
Coping and support
If you have lupus, you probably experience a range of unpleasant emotions regarding your illness, from fear to intense frustration. Your chance of developing depression and other mental health issues such as worry, stress, and low self-esteem is increased by the difficulties of living with lupus. To help you cope, try to:
• Get as much knowledge about lupus as you can. As questions come to mind, jot them down so you may ask your doctor about them at your next appointment. Seek reliable resources for more information from your doctor or nurse. The more knowledgeable you are about lupus, the more assured you'll feel about your treatment options.
• Utilize the assistance of your family and friends. Let your loved ones know about your lupus and how they can support you during flare-ups. For your loved ones, lupus can be frustrating because they frequently cannot see it and you might not even seem ill.
Unless you tell them, your family and friends won't know if you're having a good or poor day. Be honest with your loved ones about how you're feeling so they know what to expect.
• Schedule some alone time. Take time for yourself to help you deal with stress in your life. Utilize that time to read, practise meditation, enjoy some music, or keep a notebook. Find things to do to relax and recharge.
• Make connections with others having lupus. Speak to other people with lupus. You can establish connections through online message boards or local support groups. Due to the fact that they experience many of the same difficulties and annoyances as you do, other people with lupus can provide special assistance.
Living With Someone Who Has Lupus
If someone close to you has lupus, it's likely that the illness will have an impact on your life as well. Here are some pointers for coexisting with someone who has lupus sufferer:
• Get knowledge of lupus and its remedies. Knowing more about the illness will help you be more prepared and able to offer better support and understanding.
• Avoid pushing. Let your loved one the time and space they need to deal with their sickness and reclaim some of their life's control.
• When you can, accompany them to the doctor. This is a helpful method to listen to the doctor's advice and to offer support. When someone else is stressed, they can lose track of details.
• Motivate the person to take care of themselves and adhere to the doctor's treatment regimen. Be calm and don't bug anyone.
• Be open. Ask the other person about their wants and fears while you discuss your own worries and apprehensions.
How to Prevent Lupus
Currently, there is no known way to prevent lupus. However, there are some lifestyle habits that may help reduce the risk of developing lupus or help manage the symptoms if you already have lupus:
1. Protect yourself from sunlight - Sun exposure can trigger lupus flares. Wear protective clothing, use sunscreen, and avoid being in direct sunlight during peak hours.
2. Quit smoking - Smoking can worsen symptoms of lupus and increase the risk of complications.
3. Eat a healthy diet - A balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help maintain overall health.
4. Get enough rest - Fatigue is a common symptom of lupus, so getting enough rest is important. Establish a regular sleep routine and take breaks when needed.
5. Exercise regularly - Regular exercise can help reduce joint pain and stiffness, improve cardiovascular health, and boost mood.
6. Manage stress - Stress can trigger lupus flares. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, can help reduce stress.
7. Avoid exposure to harmful chemicals - Exposure to chemicals, such as solvents, pesticides, and industrial chemicals, has been linked to an increased risk of lupus.
8. Stay up-to-date on vaccinations - Vaccines can help prevent infections, which can be particularly dangerous for people with lupus.
It is important to note that these lifestyle habits may not necessarily prevent lupus, but they can help manage symptoms and improve overall health.
....making effort to "STAYWELL"