Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system attacks organs and tissues. It often affects the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs. Lupus is an insidious disease since its symptoms are similar to many other illnesses. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, there are around 16,000 new cases of lupus every year and up to 1.5 million Americans may be living with this condition. Scientists still haven’t found the exact cause of lupus but some factors may increase the risk of the disease. These include:
Taking certain drugs (antifungals, antibiotics, thyroid medications, and oral contraceptive pills)
Long-term sunlight exposure
Lupus can rapidly destroy kidneys and cause nephritis. Around 1 in 3 patients with lupus have kidney problems, moreover, kidney failure is the most common cause of death among people with lupus. The main symptom of damaged kidneys is blood in the urine.
Frequent headaches and dizziness indicate brain damage in people with lupus. Rain and central nervous system damage are also characterized by changes in behavior, vision impairment, seizures, depression, and even stroke. Many patients with this disease have memory disturbances and can’t express their thoughts.
Lupus can change blood coagulation and even lead to anemia and thrombocytopenia. The disease can sometimes provoke vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels). Therefore, people with lupus should regularly visit a vein specialist.
Lupus may provoke pleuritis or inflammation of the chest cavity lining which can cause chest pain, shallow breathing, and pneumonia.
If lupus affects the heart, it can result in endocarditis and myocarditis which increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks.
Lupus symptoms may differ and often depend on what body system is attacked by the disease. However, lupus has certain general signs that may help detect this condition and prevent irreversible consequences and death. These include:
High body temperature
Regular leg swelling
Sensitivity to the sun
Unexplained and rapid weight loss
Swollen lymph nodes
Butterfly rash and red patches
The last symptom is the most obvious sign of lupus. Other symptoms may indicate different diseases but if you notice several of the described above signs, you need to consult your therapist to make the right diagnosis.
Lupus is still incurable but it can be managed. Doctors usually plan individual lupus management which will be the most effective in the particular case and prevent dangerous health consequences. But there certain medications that are most commonly used in most cases:
Antimalarial drugs. These medications affect the immune system function and reduce the risk of lupus flares. They are also used for joint pain, fatigue, skin rashes, and lung inflammation. But antimalarials have dangerous side effects including retinal damage, therefore before taking them, consult your doctor.
Anti-inflammatory drugs. Ibuprofen helps relieve internal inflammation, joint pain, swelling, and lupus-related fever.
Corticosteroids. Corticosteroids help reduce swelling and inflammation and in high doses, they can calm the immune system. They are used for treating kidney and brain problems caused by lupus.
Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is usually used in severe cases of lupus when it affects major organs and other medications don’t help.
Proper lupus management, giving up bad habits, taking medicines, getting regular physical activity, and eating a healthy diet will help you live a healthy and happy life and avoid complications.