What is lupus?
Lupus occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s tissues and organs. This autoimmune disorder has the potential to affect many organs, such as the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs.
What are the symptoms of lupus?
People with lupus all have their own individual experience. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, be temporary or permanent, and develop suddenly or slowly. Some may see their symptoms during episodes, while others constantly feel the effects.
Symptoms include fatigue, fever, joint pain, butterfly-shaped rashes on the center of the face, rashes, skin lesions that worsen with exposure to the sun, Raynaud’s phenomenon, shortness of breath, chest pain, dry eyes, confusion, memory loss, and headaches.
There are also complications associated with lupus. Inflammation can damage some of the body’s organs, such as the kidneys, brain, central nervous system, blood, blood vessels, lungs, and heart. People with lupus are also at a higher risk of infection, cancer, death of the bone tissue, and complications during pregnancy.
What causes lupus?
It is believed that a combination of genetics and environmental factors cause lupus. People are born predisposed to lupus, and they experience the onset of symptoms when they come into contact with an environmental trigger. Triggers include sunlight, medications, and infections.
There are also risk factors associated with lupus. Females are at a higher risk of developing this condition, as are people between the ages of 15 to 45. Lupus is also more common in African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Hispanics.
How is lupus diagnosed?
As symptoms vary greatly between people with lupus, a diagnosis may be difficult to obtain. A combination of tests are needed to diagnose lupus. These tests include complete blood counts, kidney and liver assessments, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, urinalysis, antinuclear antibody tests, chest x-rays, echocardiograms, and biopsies of the kidneys and skin.
What are the treatments for lupus?
Treatment for lupus depends on what symptoms are presented. Doctors may switch medications based on changing symptoms. Medications that are prescribed include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antimalarial drugs, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, biologics, and rituximab.