Frequently asked questions about lupus answered
Lupus, also known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE, is a chronic autoimmune disease. The human body, specifically the immune system, produces antibodies that fight off bacteria, germs and any other foreign invaders that might harm the body. In lupus, the body cannot distinguish between the foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues. This causes the body to produce autoantibodies that attack and destroy any part of your body, including joints, skin and organs.
Lupus is a tricky disease to pinpoint because it does really well to mimic other potential diseases, often displaying the same symptoms, which is why it can be left untreated for long periods of time unless further symptoms most commonly associated with this disease occur.
Fatigue, muscle pain, fever, and malaise are all initial symptoms of lupus. Aside from this, 70 per-cent of people with lupus develop dermatological conditions. Skin lesions, rashes, ulcers and red scaly patches of skin are all common manifestations.
It is a common misconception that lupus is contagious. Lupus cannot be spread from one person to the other in any way. It is not known exactly how lupus develops in a person, but a commonly held belief is environmental and genetic stimuli are the main cause.
Women are more susceptible to get the disease than men, specifically 9 times more likely. There is no cure for lupus, but it’s symptoms can be suppressed.
A person suspected of having lupus has to go through a number of tests before it can be determined whether they have lupus or not. This is mainly because of the nature of the disease to imitate other illnesses.
A doctor will first check the body internally and externally for signs of inflammation. There will also be a check for redness, pain, and the loss of function of any part of the body. The inflammation can be in the organs, or on the skin. Sometimes even both at the same time.
The doctor will also need to go through the affected person’s family history of diseases, as genes are an important factor to consider when dealing with lupus. Multiple tests need to be performed bit by bit to create a larger picture of whether a person can be diagnosed with the disease. This poses a few problems as symptoms that were once present may disappear and reappear at a later date, different laboratories can produce different results and unfortunately no one test can determine the presence of the disease. Usually different specialists will need to perform a battery of tests that when compiled may conclusively point to the existence of lupus.
The treatment of lupus usually requires a team of specialists working in conjunction to address the damage caused by the disease to different parts of the body. A rheumatologist, a doctor specializing in the disease of the muscles and joints, is usually the main person to treat lupus. Cardiologists, neurologists, dermatologists and gastroenterologists all need to be consulted and directly involved for effective treatment of this illness.
A variety of drugs are used, each with different strengths. These drugs most likely change according to the progression of the disease.
It can take a considerable amount of time to figure out exactly which medicine and treatments are most effective in a person with lupus as each case is different.
The drugs most commonly used to treat lupus are:
Once a diagnosis for lupus has been accurately made, medicines are used to suppress the effects of the disease. There is no cure for lupus so symptoms can only be managed by reducing inflammation, preventing flares, avoiding further damage to organs and controlling fatigue and joint pain.
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