What is Lupus?

 

Lupus disease is more formally known to the academic world as Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or “Lupus” for short.  Lupus is a disease which acts on the immune system within the body, and disrupts the normal operation of the immune system to such a large extent that the sufferer can be left with severe discomfort and even disability.  For these reasons, Lupus is known as an autoimmune disorder. 

Is there a cure for Lupus?

At present there is no cure for Lupus.  Fortunately, there is a range of effective treatments for Lupus, so most sufferers are able to live reasonably comfortable lives.  The aim of the treatment is not necessarily to cure the disease, but to help people lead active and healthy lives while managing the symptoms of the disease.

 

What does Lupus effect?symptoms of lupus

Lupus can have severe negative effects on the kidneys, skin, joints, brain and other organs. Lupus disease causes the body’s own immune systems to hyper react and actually causes the immune system to attack normal, healthy tissue, instead of providing immunity from foreign germs and bacteria. Rather than simply producing antibodies to attack these germs, bacteria, and viruses, the immune system creates auto-antibodies that attack the immune system itself.

Lupus is a long term condition where a person’s immune system produces antibodies against different parts of itself.  Lupus may cause the body to attack the skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, heart, and even the delicate parts of the brain.

 

Lupus causes sever inflammation

When the immune system carries out an attack on normal healthy tissues, the result is noticeable inflammation and damage to various parts of a healthy body.  Most sufferers of Lupus seem to exhibit slightly different symptoms, but just some of the common afflictions include chronic fatigue, swollen joints, skin rashes on certain parts of the body, as well as problems with the kidneys.  As you can see, some of these symptoms are not unique to Lupus, so one of the problems with Lupus is making an accurate diagnosis, when the symptoms may look like a different disease completely.

One of the most common determinants of Lupus is vasculitis. This means that there is swelling of the blood vessels. In lupus, this swelling is caused by the immune system attacking itself, and the attacks can be extremely painful, but hard to detect.

What is vasculitis?

Vasculitis is inflammation of the blood vessels, which is caused by white blood cells attacking healthy tissue, rather than eliminating foreign bacteria or unhealthy viruses.  The result of vasculitis is chronic pain and discomfort around the inflamed location, which can spread to neighboring joints and muscles.

 

How does Lupus present?

Lupus commonly appears in sudden bouts which are known as “flares” of the symptoms.  Lupus causes sudden flare ups of inflammation and vasculitis, with associated pain and discomfort, followed by periods of relative comfort or even remission.  Unfortunately, recurring bouts or flares of Lupus can be expected, and we need to understand more about what can cause the onset and frequency of Lupus flares.

Most people manage their disease by maintaining optimal health in between bouts of Lupus, and by avoidance of their own personal triggers for the disease.  For example, some people find that severe exposure to sunlight can cause the sudden recurrence of Lupus, so limiting the time spent in the outdoors is a simple preventative measure for the problem.

What are the various forms of Lupus?

Lupus can present in a multitude of symptoms and various different forms.  Some people can suffer severe and sudden onset of the classical symptoms of Lupus, whilst other people seem to develop different symptoms at different stages of the development of the disease.  Here are some of the common variations of Lupus:

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

This variant is known as SLE for short, and can affect all areas of the body, causing inflammation of the joints, pain in the muscles, problems with the kidneys, and can even cause inflammation in sensitive tissues such as in the brain.

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus 

This variant is known as DLE for short, and is most easily recognised by the development of a sever and annoying rash.  The rash most commonly develops across the nose and cheeks, and due to its distinctive appearance, can also be known as the “butterfly rash”.

Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus

Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus is known as SCLE and the name refers to sores and lesion which can present on the skin.  This variation of the Lupus disease can be triggered by exposure to sunlight, and it tends to occur primarily on parts of the skin that are commonly exposed to the Sun.

 

Who Does Lupus Affect?

While few people have heard of lupus, it is quite prevalent and because the question, “How Do You Get Lupus?” can’t be answered definitively, it is believed that lupus can affect anyone. There are however clear factors that determine lupus: genetics, hereditary mechanisms and hormones.

Lupus appears more often in women than men, cases of lupus in women represent over 80% of all cases. Lupus disease often appears in people between the ages of 10 and 50.  People of Asian and African descent are more frequently affected than people of other races, but Lupus can affect anyone, including children and pregnant women.

Lupus has been found to run in families, but just because you have a family member with the disease does not mean you have an increased likelihood of contracting Lupus.

 

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