Commonly asked questions about lupus:
- What is it?
- What causes it?
- What risk factors are associated with it?
- What are the signs/symptoms of it?
- Is it curable?
- What drugs/medicines are used to treat it?
What is Lupus?
Lupus is a form of autoimmune disease, meaning that your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues in your body. It is often difficult to diagnose. This is because the signs and symptoms are often similar to that of other ailments. It is capable of effecting the skin, joints, brain, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels and other internal organs. The most distinctive sign is a butterfly-wing shaped facial rash across both cheeks.
What Causes Lupus?
According to the Mayo Clinic and Medical News Today, the exact cause is unknown. However, there are several environmental factors that may trigger the disease in those affected by it. Some potential triggers include:
- Sunlight: Exposure to the sun may trigger skin lesions or an internal response.
- Infections: Having an infection may initiate it in some people, or cause a relapse in those who already have it.
- Medications: It may be triggered by specific types of anti-seizure medication, blood pressure medications or antibiotics.
What Risk Factors are Associated with Lupus?
According to Lupus.org, some of the main risk factors associated with the disease include:
|Gender||More than 90% of those affected are women.|
|Race||It is more common in people of color (African America, Indian, Asian) than in Caucasians, as well as usually being more severe.|
|Age||Most of the time it is diagnosed between the ages of 15-44.|
|Family History||Relatives of someone diagnosed with the disease have between a 5-13% chance of developing it themselves.|
What are the Signs/Symptoms of Lupus?
Lupus.org states that it is often referred to as the “great imitator” because many of its symptoms are reminiscent of many other diseases. Due to the fact that it can affect many different organs a wide range of symptoms may occur, such as:
- Extreme fatigue
- Painful or swollen joints
- Swelling in the feet, legs, hands or eyes
- Pain in chest when deep breathing
- Butterfly-shaped rash across face and cheeks
- Sun or light sensitivity
- Hair loss
- Abnormal blood clotting
- Fingers turning white or blue when cold
- Mouth or nose ulcers
Is Lupus Curable?
According to Mayo Clinic there is currently no cure available. However, there are many different ways that it can be treated.
What Drugs/Medications are Used to Treat Lupus?
The treatment depends on the signs and symptoms that you are showing. Due to the variety of symptoms that go along with it there is no one set way to treat it. As your symptoms flare or subside your dosage or medication may need to be changed entirely to adapt to the disease. According to Mayo Clinic and Lupus.org some of the most common drugs used to treat the disease are:
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Used to treat pain, swelling and fever.
- Antimalarial Drugs: Medications that are used to control malaria are also often used to treat certain symptoms.
- Corticosteroids: Are used to counter inflammation. However, these drugs may cause long-term side effects.
- Immunosuppressants: These drugs are used to suppress the immune system in extreme cases.