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Lupus: A Debilitating Autoimmune Disease

Lupus: A Debilitating Autoimmune Disease
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Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease in which the immune system begins to attack the body’s own tissue and organs. Lupus affects nearly every system in the body, from the digestive system to the skin. This disease has an unpredictable prognosis, often going into remission for long time periods and having random flare-ups for indeterminant time periods.

What Causes Lupus?

While recent research shows lupus may be genetic, the exact cause it still unknown. Environmental factors like sunlight can exacerbate the condition, as well as certain medications.

Types of Lupus

There are four main types of lupus:

Systemic lupus erythematosus

Systemic lupus erythematosus is the most common type of lupus. Symptoms typically manifest between the ages of 15 and 45 and affect nearly every system in the body.

Discoid lupus erythematosus

Discoid lupus erythematosus primarily affects the skin. This type of lupus results in a widespread rash across the face, neck and ears.

Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus

Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus is brought on by excessive exposure to sunlight. This type of lupus results in open sores on the skin.

Neonatal lupus

Neonatal lupus is present at birth. The main symptom of this type of lupus is a widespread rash on an infant’s skin.

lupus pictures

Symptoms of Lupus

  • Fatigue
  • Rashes and Skin Irritation
  • Butterfly-Shaped Rash on the Face
  • Fever
  • Joint Pain
  • Chest Pain
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Headaches
  • Memory Loss
  • Confusion
  • Dry Eyes
  • Raynaud’s Phenomenon – Fingers and Toes Turning White In The Cold
  • Urinary Issues
  • Abdominal Pain

diagnosing lupus

Diagnosing Lupus

Due to its wide-ranging symptoms, it can be very hard to diagnose lupus. The condition is often misdiagnosed as other conditions that present similar symptoms. Initial testing for lupus includes CBC, kidney and liver blood panels to asses organ function and erythrocyte sedimentation rates. These levels will be out of normal range in a lupus patient. Diagnostic imaging, such as chest x-rays and echocardiograms can check for lung inflammation and heart valve problems.

Treating Lupus

While there is no cure for lupus, the condition can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. Avoiding drugs and alcohol can help the patient to avoid flare-ups. In left untreated, lupus may lead to life-threatening complications including kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, lung inflammation or stroke.

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