Lupus is a widespread and chronic autoimmune disease that makes the body’s immune system, known for fighting against infection, attack its own tissues and organs including kidneys, brain, heart, skin, joints, blood, and lungs. The disease is called chronic because the symptoms generally last longer than six weeks and sometimes for many years.
In lupus, the immune system of the body fails to differentiate between harmful foreign substances entering our body and the body’s own healthy tissues. The immune system then starts attacking and destroying healthy tissues and cells, affecting major organs of the body. The symptoms of lupus can be meek or even life threatening. The common symptoms include swollen joints, frequent fevers, low blood count, skin rash, chest pain related to breathing, protein in the urine, and extreme fatigue (tiredness).
Below are some random facts about lupus:
- There are four types of lupus. The first one is Systemic Erythematosus in which a major organ of the body gets affected, and approximately 70% of all the lupus cases are of this type.
- The second type is Cutaneous Lupus or Discoid Lupus, which mainly affects the skin. It is generally the result of exposure of the skin to sun.
- The third type is Neonatal Lupus, which is found in newborn babies of mothers having lupus. The infants can develop symptoms like skin rash, liver problems, or low blood cell counts at birth.
- The fourth type is Medically Induced Lupus, which is the result of the intake of certain prescribed drugs.
- Lupus is found more among women. About 90% of the diagnosed cases of lupus include women between 15 to 44 years of age. However, men can also get the disease, and it can affect their organs more severely.
- Lupus can be found in people of all races, but it is diagnosed two or three times more often among African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans, than it is in Caucasians.
- Lupus is not infectious. It cannot be acquired through direct contact with someone already having lupus. It is not related to cancer or HIV/AIDS.
- Most of the symptoms of lupus occur in the body internally. So, it is not possible to distinguish a person having lupus by outward appearance.
- Diagnosis of lupus is possible after a heedful inspection of the medical history of the person along with analysis of the laboratory tests taken. The symptoms of lupus are sometimes false as they just come and go, making the diagnosis difficult. There are some specialized tests also related to the immune system. So, it requires an exhaustive examination to diagnose the disease.
- It is estimated that one-third of the people diagnosed with lupus develop a butterfly-shaped, reddish rash on their faces across the bridge of the nose and the cheeks. This is the only external symptom of lupus.
- According to the research, about 1.5 million Americans suffer from lupus. These numbers in actuality can be higher than this. There are about 16,000 fresh cases of lupus that are counted annually in the U.S. alone. Around five million people are affected by some kind of lupus across the globe.
- The treatment for lupus is based on the symptoms and specific needs of the patient. The treatment takes into account the organ affected as a consequence of lupus. If lupus affects the joints, muscles, and bones, then it is treated by a rheumatologist. If it affects heart and kidneys, other physicians specializing in their respective fields treat the disease. Commonly prescribed medications include anti-inflammatory or anti-malarial drugs and steroids such as prednisone. Even cytotoxic chemotherapies, which are given during treatment of cancer, are used to treat lupus.