Over 1.5 Million People In America Have Some Form Of Lupus
Lupus, (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune simply means that the immune system of a person with lupus mistakenly attacks healthy tissue which leads to chronic inflammation. It is a chronic inflammatory condition that can affect various parts of your body, especially skin, joints, blood, and kidneys. The root cause of an autoimmune disease such as lupus is currently unknown. It can appear at any age but is much more common among females over males and is most common among Asians and persons of color. And while it can occur at any age, it appears most frequently in people between the ages of 10 and 50.
This autoimmune disease can also be caused by certain medications. The most common medications known to cause it include: isoniazid (used to treat tuberculosis), hydralazine (a drug used to treat high blood pressure), and procainamide (used for the treatment of abnormal heart rythyms). If you think you have lupus you definately need to check with your doctor if you are currently taking any medications at all.
Lupus Symptoms and Signs To Watch For
The symptoms will depend largely on which area of your body is being affected by the disease. The most common symtoms of lupus include the following:
- Fatigue and fever
- Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
- Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure
- Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud's phenomenon)
- Shortness of breathChest pain
- Dry eyes
- Headaches, confusion, and loss of memory
- One of the most telltale signs of lupus is a "lupus rash" that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose and is shaped like a butterfly. Again, if you think you might have lupus, check with your doctor before doing anything else.
Treatment for this disease is entirely dependent on your signs and symptoms. In order to determine whether you should be treated and what medications should be used will be discussed between you and your doctor as to the benefits and risks of any prescribed treatment. Your condition will be closely monitored and as symtoms subside or increase, you and your doctor will decide if changes in medications or dosages need to be adjusted accordingly.
Lupus Anticoagulant Test
This testing is done when a patient has had an unexplained thrombotic episode (the clinical signs and symptoms associated with a blood clot in a vein or artery). If a lupus anticoagulant panel is positive, the patient's doctor will usually repeat the testing sometime later to determine whether the anticoagulant is transient or persistent. Nephritis is another condition that effects the kidneys and can be brought on by lupus and should be discussed as to the best way to avoid it and the possibilities of you contracting it.
The Lupus Foundation of America
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with or are being evaluated for possible lupus, you will want to know as much as you can about the disease. The Lupus Foundation of America will do everything they can to assist you and provide you with a guide so that you can better understand what lupus is.
You are welcome to submit a question to their panel of nationally-renowned lupus medical experts. While their panelists cannot respond to every question submitted, they will select several representative questions that may be of interest to a broad cross-section of people living with lupus.
Their website address is: www.lupus.org