What is Lupus

Lupus is a chronic disease characterized by inflammation in one or more parts of the body. It belongs in the family of diseases that includes rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, juvenile diabetes, and scleroderma. The most common type of lupus is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It is estimated that lupus affects one in 2,000 people.

Systemic lupus is a complex and sometimes baffling condition that can target any tissue or organ of the body, including skin, muscles, joints, blood and blood vessels, lungs, heart, kidneys and the brain.

There are other types of lupus which mainly affect the skin. A few individuals develop drug-induced lupus as a response to some medications used to treat other conditions. These symptoms disappear when the person stops taking the medication.

Anyone can get lupus. Between the ages of 15 and 45, eight time more women than men get lupus. In those under 15 or over 45, both sexes are affected equally.

What causes Lupus

The cause remains unknown. what we do know is that, in lupus, the immune system is unable t tell the difference between intruders and the body's own tissues. This can result in the immune system targeting parts of the body, causing inflammation and creating the symptoms of lupus.

While lupus can be a serious condition, in most cases it can be treated and controlled. Lupus often goes in cycles, with periods of time in which symptoms may disappear completely. Diagnosis and treatment are improving, allowing people with lupus to live increasingly active and productive lives.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include: joint pain and swelling; a red rash across the upper cheeks and bridge of the nose; extreme fatigue; an unusual reaction to sunlight; a red scaly skin rash; small ulcers inside the nose or mouth; chest pain, worse when lying down or inhaling; swelling of feet and legs; seizures or severe neurological symptoms; hair loss. This is far from a complete list.

Medical Treatments

Treatment is different for each person since each case is different. It can range from anti-malarial drugs to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, COX-II inhibitors, corticosteroids or immunosuppressive drugs, or a combination of the above. Rest and stress reduction, and healthy lifestyle are important contributors to treatment.

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