If you have this disease, you probably have a lot of questions. The lupus is not a simple disease with an easy answer. You can’t take a pill and make it go away. People who live or work with you may have a hard time understanding that you are sick. This health condition does not have clear signs that people can see. You may know that something is wrong, but it may still take some time for it to be diagnosed.

Lupus has many faces. It can affect people of different races, ethnic groups, ages, and both men and women. Lupus can look like other diseases. It is different in each person who suffers from it.

The good news is that you can find help and fight lupus . The first step is to learn about it. Ask questions. Talk to your doctor, family, and friends. People looking for answers can find them. This brochure can help you start this process.

What is lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease. This means that it affects the immune system. The immune system is like an army with hundreds of soldiers. Its job is to fight foreign or foreign substances in the body, such as germs and viruses. But when there is an autoimmune disease, the immune system is out of control. The result is that the body begins to attack healthy cells, not germs.

It is not contagious, that is, you cannot get it from another person. It is not a type of cancer, nor is it related to AIDS.

Lupus is a disease that can affect many parts of the body. Each person reacts differently. A person with lupus may have swollen knees and a fever. Another person could be tired all the time or have kidney problems.

A third could have a skin rash. Lupus can involve the joints, skin, kidneys, lungs, heart, or brain. If you have lupus, two or three parts of the body can be affected. It is not common for a person to have all possible symptoms.

There are three main types of lupus:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) (“systemic lupus erythematosus” or SLE) is the most common form. In many cases it is simply called lupus. The word “systemic” means that the disease can involve various parts of the body such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain. The symptoms of SLE can be moderate or severe.
  • Discoid or cutaneous lupus (“discoid lupus erythematosus”) mainly affects the skin. A reddish rash may appear or there may be changes in skin color on the face, scalp, or elsewhere on the body.
  • Drug -induced lupus is caused by some drugs. It is similar to systemic lupus, but the symptoms are usually less severe. In most cases, the disease goes away when the medicine is stopped. More men develop this type of lupus because the drugs that cause it (hydralazine and procainamide) are used to treat heart conditions that are more common in men.

What are the signs and symptoms of lupus?

Lupus can be difficult to diagnose. On many occasions it is confused with other diseases. For this reason, lupus has been called “the great copycat.” The signs of lupus vary from person to person. Some people have only a few symptoms, others may have more.

Some common signs of lupus are:

  • Reddish or discolored rashes on the face, often in the shape of a butterfly on the nose and
    cheeks or cheeks.
  • Pain or swelling in the joints or joints (for example, knees or elbows).
  • Unexplained fever
  • Chest pain accompanied by shortness of breath.
  • Swollen glands.
  • Extreme fatigue (feeling tired all the time).
  • Unusual hair loss (especially on the scalp).
  • Fingers or toes turn pale or purple from cold or stress.
  • Sensitivity to the sun
  • Low blood cell count.
  • Depression, trouble thinking, or memory problems.

Other signs are mouth ulcers or canker sores, unexplained seizures, hallucinations (seeing things that are not there), repeated miscarriages, and unexplained problems with the kidneys.

What is a lupus flare?

When symptoms appear, it is called an outbreak. These signs can come and go. You may have inflammation and a rash for one week, and see no symptoms the next week. You may find that your symptoms intensify after being in the sun or after a long day at work.

Even when taking medicine for lupus, you may occasionally see symptoms worsening. Learning to recognize that an outbreak is coming may help you take steps to deal with it.

Many people feel very tired or have pain, a skin rash, fever, an upset stomach, headache, or dizziness just before an outbreak. To prevent flare-ups, you can take certain precautions that may help, such as limiting your time in the sun and getting plenty of rest and relaxation time.

What Causes Lupus?

We do not know what causes lupus and, although there is no cure, in most cases lupus can be controlled . Lupus sometimes runs in families, indicating that the disease could be inherited. Still, having the genes does not mean that you will get sick.

The environment, sunlight, stress, and certain medications may trigger symptoms in some people. Other people who have a similar genetic history may never develop signs or symptoms of the disease. Researchers are trying to find the reason why this happens.

Who gets lupus?

Anyone can get it, but we know that more women than men have it, and that black women are three times more likely to have lupus than white women. It is also more common among Hispanic / Latino, Asian, and Native American women.

Both blacks and Hispanics / Latinos tend to develop this disease at a younger age, and at the time of diagnosis they have more symptoms (including problems with the kidneys).

In addition, they show a tendency to develop more severe diseases than those of white people. For example, black patients have more seizures and paralysis or strokes while Hispanic or Latino patients have more heart problems. We don’t know why some people seem to have more complications with lupus than others.

It is most common in women between the ages of 15 to 44 years. In general, these are the years when women can have children. Scientists think that some female hormone could have something to do with the development of lupus. However, it is important to remember that men and older people can also develop lupus .

It is not common for children under the age of 15 to have it. An exception are children born to a woman with this disease. These children may have heart, liver, or skin problems caused by lupus. With proper care, most women can have a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby.

How can I live with lupus?

You need to know what works best for you and what is best for your own body and health. It could be that a rheumatologist has the best treatment plan for you. Other health professionals who can help you deal with the different aspects of lupus include psychologists, occupational therapists, dermatologists, and dietitians.

You may find that exercising with a physical therapist can help you feel better. The important thing is that you continue to work regularly with your team of healthcare professionals, even when your lupus is under control and all is well.

Dealing with a long-term illness like lupus can have a great emotional impact. You may even think that your friends, family, and co-workers don’t understand how you feel. Sadness and anger are common reactions.

People with lupus have low energy and have to learn to use it wisely. Ask your team of healthcare professionals about different ways to cope with fatigue. Most people feel better if they can balance work and rest.

To keep in mind:

  • Pay attention to your body . Slow down or stop before you are very tired.
  • Find your own rhythm . Spread the time between your work and other activities.
  • Don’t blame yourself for being fatigued . Fatigue is part of the disease.
  • Try participating in counseling and support groups . They can help you understand that you are not alone. Group members help each other.
  • Consider the support that your family, religious groups and other organizations in your community can provide.

It is true that staying healthy is more difficult when you have lupus. You need to pay attention to your body, mind, and spirit. Having a chronic illness is stressful. People deal with stress in different ways. Some activities that can help you are:

  • Participate in social activities.
  • Practice techniques such as meditation and yoga.
  • Determine what their priorities are to dedicate your time and energy to them.

Exercise is another activity that can help you deal with lupus. Among the types of exercises you can do are the following:

  • Calisthenics or exercises to extend the range of movement (for example, stretching), which help maintain normal movement of the joints or joints and relieve stiffness. This type of exercise helps maintain or increase flexibility.
  • Strengthening exercises (such as weight lifting), which help maintain or increase muscle strength. Strong muscles provide support and protection to joints affected by lupus.
  • Aerobics or resistance (for example, brisk walking or jogging), which improve cardiovascular fitness, help control weight and improve overall function.

People with chronic conditions like lupus should speak with a healthcare professional before beginning an exercise program.

Learning about lupus can help you. People who are better informed and involved in planning their treatment usually report less pain. In addition, they do not make as many visits to the doctor, they are more confident in themselves and they are more active.

Women who want to have children should work together with their team of health professionals, for example doctors, physical therapists and nurses. Your obstetrician and the doctor in charge of your lupus treatment should work in a common effort to find the best treatment plan for your condition.

Hope in research

Scientists are working to find the causes of lupus , and what are the best treatments. Here are some of the questions they’re looking for answers to:

  1. Who gets lupus and why?
  2. Why do women develop it more often than men?
  3. Why is there a higher incidence among certain racial and ethnic minority groups?
  4. What is damaged in the immune system and why?
  5. What genes are involved in this disease?
  6. How can we correct an immune system that is not working well?
  7. How can treatment for lupus symptoms be improved?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsors research on health and disease. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) supports research on bones, joints, muscles, and skin. These are the parts of the body that can be affected by lupus. NIAMS-sponsored research is focused on the following topics:

Scientists have shown that people with this condition who test positive for certain antibodies are more likely to have severe flare-ups. They have also shown that prednisone can prevent flare-ups in these people.

Researchers have found that the process of cleaning dead cells from the body may not work well in lupus. If you learn more about this process, you may be able to develop new treatments.

Scientists are beginning to understand the roles that different types of immune cells play in lupus. This knowledge can help them find new ways to treat the disease.

Proteins have been identified in the urine of lupus patients that can indicate the type of kidney disease and its severity. A simple blood test based on this discovery could save patients the cost and pain associated with kidney biopsies.

Certain genes make some people more susceptible to serious complications, such as kidney disease. NIAMS researchers found that there is a gene associated with lupus among blacks that increases the risk of developing kidney disease.

Changes in this gene prevent the immune system from getting rid of the cells that fight germs once they have finished their function. Other genes that may play a role in lupus have also been identified

It is more common in women than in men. Researchers are looking into the role hormones play and other differences between men and women.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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