Lupus: What You Need To Know

Lupus: What You Need To Know

Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the body turns and attacks its own healthy tissue and organs.  The body can end up attacking the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, heart and lungs. Lupus is very hard to diagnose because no two cases are similar.  There is no one cause of Lupus but some people seem to think that it’s due to genetics and environment. Lupus can occur in anyone, but it mainly affects females.  Lupus can be diagnosed at any age but it is more commonly found in people from ages fifteen to forty five. There are some racial groups that seem to be more prone to Lupus such as African-Americans, Hispanics, or Asian-Americans. There are about 200,000 cases of Lupus reported yearly.  Lupus is very hard to diagnose, and there is no cure. Lupus can either be a lifelong disease or it can only last for a few years. The symptoms are very commonly misdiagnosed as other diseases so it can take some time for your doctor to come to the conclusion that you have Lupus. 

There is a long list of symptoms that have been listed as signs of Lupus.  Symptoms can either be consistent or there are Lupus flare ups, where symptoms get worse sometimes and subside others.  The most common symptom is a butterfly rash that spreads across the cheeks. The rash is usually red and looks like butterfly wings stretching across the face.  Though the rash is the most common, it does not mean if there is an absence of the rash means there is no Lupus. Since signs and symptoms are different for each person there can be a mixture of any of these below symptoms.  Symptoms to look for are: fatigue, fever, joint pain, stiffness, swelling, or skin lesions. Another symptom is fingers or toes that turn white or blue when exposed to the cold. Shortness of breath, chest pain, dry eyes, headaches, confusion or even memory loss can also be symptoms.  

With the widespread of symptoms there is no one test to diagnose Lupus.  It can take a long time for your doctors to come to this diagnosis. Mostly because they will try and rule out other things before jumping to Lupus.  Also they will have to run a whole bunch of different tests. Some tests they may run are complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, or kidney and liver assessment which could lead to  kidney biopsy. More tests include urinalysis, antinuclear antibody test, chest x-rays, and echocardiogram. Once these tests are ran your doctor will know how to begin treatment.  

Since Lupus attacks your own body this disease can lead to some major complications.  Lupus can cause kidney damage or shut down your kidneys. This complication leads the most cases of death from Lupus.  Brain and nervous symptom complications can arise and cause headaches, dizziness, behavior changes, vision problems, strokes, seizures, and even memory loss. Blood and blood vessel complications can cause you to develop anemia, blood clotting or excessive bleeding.  Lung complications such as pleurisy or pneumonia can occur. Heart complications include pericarditis, cardiovascular disease and even heart attacks. Infections can happen more regularly due to the weekend immune system caused by Lupus. Cancer can happen even though the link from Lupus to cancer is very slim.  Bone tissue death, or necrosis, can happen causing your bones to either break in tiny places or bone collapse. Pregnancy complications can happen in females who have Lupus, such as higher chance of miscarriages, your doctor may suggest waiting to try to become pregnant until your Lupus has been controlled for at least six months. 

Once you have been diagnosed and depending on your symptoms your doctor will have a way to help you manage your symptoms. Lupus is not curable.  So any treatment that is done will be to maintain your symptoms. Some medications your doctor could prescribe are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aleve, Advil, or Motrin.  Antimalarial drugs which are usually used to fight malaria, help decrease flare ups since this drug will affect the immune system. Another drug your doctor may prescribe are corticosteroids example of one of these is Prednisone.   In serious cases immunosuppressants that suppress the immune system are helpful. Biologicals such as IV medications can be helpful as well.  

Though there are these medications that can help your symptoms all have side effects.  While finding a treatment with your doctor, it is important to talk through all the benefits and negative effects these drugs could have.  Other things you can do on your own that is not medicine to make sure you see your doctor regularly. Be sun smart, if the sun causes flare ups, make sure you stay protected using sunscreen, or wearing more covering clothes over your skin.  Make sure you get regular exercise. Make sure you don’t smoke at all. Eat a healthy diet and you can try Vitamin D and calcium supplements. Some people have said that acupuncture and fish oils help as well. 

Lupus isn’t curable.  But with treatment of your symptoms you can live a very normal life.  Before people had proper diagnosis, lupus mainly caused death in people whose kidneys failed.  Now with proper diagnosis and treatment eighty to ninety percent of people with Lupus will live a normal life span.  The main thing is to make sure you see your doctor regularly so they can stay on top of the disease.  


Sources:
mayoclinic.org
healthline.com


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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators.The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.
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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.

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