Lupus: 6 Important Facts You Need to Know

Lupus has no cure, and it is a chronic inflammatory disease you have when your tissues and organs are attacked by your body’s immune system. Some people are born with a greater possibility of developing lupus than the others. And the inflammations caused by lupus can affect several organs or systems in your body, such as liver, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, blood cells, brains, and skin.

Symptoms of lupus

Sometimes it is difficult to diagnose if someone is having lupus or not. This is because lupus exhibits symptoms that are very similar to other diseases, as highlighted below:

  • Having chest pain
  • Experiencing fever and fatigue
  • Having dry eyes
  • Experiencing shortness of breath
  • Incessant joint pain, swelling, and stiffness
  • Having a memory loss, headaches, and constantly feeling confused
  • Having skin lesions that seem to worsen when exposed to the sun
  • Fingers and toes turning white or blue when exposed to stress or cold
  • Having butterfly-shaped rash on your face that spreads from the cheeks to your nose’s bridge

Causes of lupus

On most occasions, the cause of lupus is unknown, but some people who inherited lupus gene may develop it when there are sudden changes in their environments. Generally, lupus may emerge when exposed to the following conditions:

  • Infections: It is possible for certain infections to bring up lupus.
  • Medications: Some blood pressure, antibiotics, and anti-seizure medications can trigger lupus.
  • Exposure to sunlight: Lupus skin lesions may surface due to the excessive exposure to the sun. Or the lesions may appear in some internal parts of your body.

              Some risk factors

The following factors may increase your risks of developing lupus:

  • Age: Despite affecting people of all ages, lupus is commonly diagnosed between the age of 15 and 40 years old.
  • Race: African-Americans, Asian, and Hispanics are more susceptible to lupus than people from other races
  • Gender (Sex): Lupus is more common in women.

                     Complications arising from lupus

Lupus may lead to any of these health complications:

  • Causing kidney failure and problems
  • Leading to headaches, behavioral changes, dizziness, strokes, and hallucinations when lupus affects one’s brain and nervous system
  • Increasing bleeding problem and risk of anemia
  • Making breathing difficult owing to an inflammation of the chest cavity lining (pleurisy), and causing people to be susceptible to pneumonia
  • Increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, because of the inflammation of the heart muscle
  • Increasing the risk of cancer
  • Leading to pregnancy complications
  • Increasing the vulnerability of people to other infections
  • Causing the death of the bone tissue

Testing and diagnosing lupus

It may be misleading to only consider the physical symptoms of lupus because other diseases have similar signs. However, there are three categories of tests that can be carried out on people to detect if they have lupus or not:

  • Laboratory tests: These include:
  • Complete blood count
  • Erythrocytes sedimentation rate
  • Urinalysis
  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test
  • Kidney and liver assessment
  • Imaging tests: These include:
  • Echocardiogram
  • Chest x-ray
  • Biopsy: This test provides better information on how far lupus has been affecting a patient’s kidney. A sample of the person’s kidney tissue is required to complete this test.

               Treatments for lupus

Your lupus will be treated based on your symptoms. Your doctor will determine which medications are the most appropriate for you. Sometimes as your health improves, the medications may have to be changed to other ones. Make sure you are constantly discussing the progress of your recovery with your doctor. In most cases, lupus can be treated with any of these medications based on the patient’s symptoms:

  • Antimalarial drugs
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroids