Lupus is a chronic long-term medical condition in which a person’s immune system attacks the body’s healthy cells, organs and tissues. Nine out of ten people who have lupus are women. This autoimmune system disorder can be quite dangerous as it can affect the joints, brain, skin and kidneys. There are various types of lupus, and no one is immune, including newborn. Therefore, consult your doctor for any medical concerns you may have.
You may detect some warning signs of lupus if you observe any of the following symptoms. Note, this list does not include all possible symptoms of Lupus. Consult with your doctor for more information about Lupus.
- Extreme fatigue
- Painful or swollen joints
- Anemia (low numbers of red blood cells)
- Edema (swelling of feet, legs, hands or eyes)
- Skin lesions that may be exacerbated with sun exposure (photosensitivity)
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Dry eyes
- Memory loss
- Butterfly-shaped rash on the face
Lupus occurs when the body’s immune system creates autoantibodies that attacks healthy cells, organs and tissues. In the process, other immune cells aid the autoantibodies and leads to inflammation and abnormal blood cells. While doctors aren’t sure about the exact cause of lupus, they believe that a variety of factors including genetics, medication, sunlight and certain medications. For some reason, this medical condition affects women, African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians and those who are between the ages of 15-40 more.
The symptoms of lupus vary for each individual, ranging from mild to severe. If a patient is suspected of having lupus, there are various methods to confirm. Usually, a physician will order laboratory tests to confirm the existence of autoantibodies, the antibody (type of protein) the immune system directs to attack the body’s own protein in response to what it perceives as a foreign body. Those who have lupus will have a positive antibody test (ANA). While lab work alone isn’t proof that an individual has lupus, it does provide the doctor another lens to view the inner workings of the patient’s health. The doctor may also order a complete round of blood tests as well as testing blood to measure levels of proteins that are not antibodies to check if there are other areas of inflammation occurring in the body. Other tests that a physician may request are urine tests as lupus may attack the kidneys without any warning signs and the blood clot rate.
As there is no cure for lupus, patients diagnosed with lupus have several options to help manage their symptoms. These include anti-malarial drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants and corticosteroids. The key to managing lupus is to avoid flare-ups that can be controlled. Therefore, the patient and doctor should work on a treatment plan to reduce inflammation caused by lupus, manage symptoms such as fatigue and joint pain by avoiding strenuous activity and knowing the limits of what you are capable of. Anti-malarial drugs such as Aralen and Plaquenil can be effective in reducing inflammation that is associated with lupus such as skin rashes, joint pain and fatigue.