Lupus Unveiled: Understanding the Symptoms and Treatment Options
The world of lupus is a mysterious one and what’s more enigmatic than the disease itself is how to properly pronounce it (hint: it's LOO-puhss). This disease was catapulted to the limelight when Selena Gomez, who also suffers from it raised awareness on it. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause a wide range of symptoms, from joint pain and fatigue to skin rashes and organ damage. While there is currently no known cure for Lupus, there are a variety of treatment options available to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. The treatment plan for lupus may vary depending on the severity and type of symptoms, but it usually involves a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and regular check-ups with a healthcare provider. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for lupus as an initiative to raise awareness on Lupus Awareness Month.
Every lupus case is different from the other. The symptoms of lupus can vary widely and may come and go, making it difficult to diagnose. Most people with lupus have mild disease that is typified by flares, which occur when signs and symptoms worsen for a period of time, then recover or even disappear altogether.
Some common symptoms of lupus include:
- Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
- Rashes on the face in the shape of a butterfly, covering the cheekbones and bridge of the nose, or rashes elsewhere on the body
- Skin lesions that form or intensify as a result of sun exposure
- When exposed to cold or during stressful situations, the fingers and toes turn white or blue.
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Dry eyes
- Headaches, confusion and memory loss
When to consult a professional
It’s best to immediately consult your doctor if you suddenly notice an unexplained rash on the body, persistent fever, discomfort, or exhaustion.
Being an autoimmune disease, lupus assaults the healthy tissues in your body. Genetics play a significant role in the development of lupus, as the disease tends to run in families. However, the disease is not solely inherited, and environmental factors such as infections, certain medications, exposure to ultraviolet light, and hormonal changes can trigger the onset of lupus or worsen symptoms. In most cases, the cause of lupus is unknown. Among the potential triggers are:
- Sunlight. Sun exposure may cause lupus skin lesions or cause an internal response in persons who are sensitive.
- Infections. Infections can trigger lupus or induce a relapse in certain persons.
- Medications. Some medications can cause drug-induced lupus erythematous (DILE), a type of lupus that is caused by an adverse reaction to certain medications. Certain blood pressure drugs, anti-seizure medications, and antibiotics can all cause lupus. People who have drug-induced lupus typically recover after they discontinue the medication. In rare cases, symptoms may persist long after the medicine is discontinued.
The following factors may raise your risk of lupus:
- Your sex. Women are more likely to develop lupus.
- Age. Lupus affects people of all ages, however it is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 45.
- Race. Lupus affects African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans more often than others.
Lupus-related inflammation can damage numerous parts of your body, including your:
- Kidneys. Lupus can seriously affect the kidneys, and renal failure is one of the major causes of mortality among lupus patients, which is why Selena Gomez underwent a transplant surgery.
- Brain and central nervous system. Lupus can cause headaches, disorientation, behavioural changes, eyesight issues, and even strokes or convulsions in the brain. Many individuals with lupus suffer from memory loss and struggle to articulate themselves.
- Blood and blood vessels. Lupus can result in blood abnormalities such as anaemia (low red blood cell count) and a higher probability of bleeding or blood clotting. It can also irritate the blood vessels.
- Lungs. Having lupus increases your chances of developing an inflammation of the chest cavity lining, which can make breathing painful. Bleeding into lungs and pneumonia also are possible.
- Heart. Lupus can cause inflammation of your heart muscle, your arteries or heart membrane. The risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks increases greatly as well.
Having lupus also increases your risk of:
- Infection. People with lupus are more vulnerable to infection because both the disease and its treatments can weaken the immune system.
- Cancer. Having lupus appears to increase your risk of cancer; however, the risk is small.
- Bone tissue death. This happens when the blood flow to a bone decreases, which commonly leads to microscopic breaches in the bone and, finally, it becomes brittle.
- Pregnancy complications. Women with lupus are more likely to miscarry. It raises the exposure to premature birth and preeclampsia or high blood pressure during pregnancy. Doctors frequently advise deferring conception until your disease has been under control for at least six months to lessen the risk of severe consequences.