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Lupus: What Causes This Autoimmune Condition? Types, Symptoms, Complications And Treatment

Known as the "disease of a thousand faces," lupus is an autoimmune disorder that damages healthy tissues over time. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease which can cause joint pain, fever, skin rashes, and organ damage. It is most commonly seen in women - typically between the ages of 15 and 45 [1].

Types Of Lupus

There are several different kinds of lupus, such as the following [2][3]:

1. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): A majority of lupus cases are classified as SLE, which constitutes 70 per cent of all cases. The symptoms of SLE may range from mild to severe, and it is a systemic condition. Therefore, it may affect multiple organs and systems throughout the body. Because of this, SLE tends to be a more severe form of lupus.

2. Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE): DLE is a type of cutaneous lupus that causes lesions on the skin. Typically, these lesions appear on the scalp and face, although they can also affect other body parts, such as the ears. A person with DLE does not suffer from internal organ damage, but around 10 per cent of people with DLE develop SLE as a result of the disease.

3. Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE): The term acute cutaneous lupus erythematosus refers to skin lesions that appear on parts of the body exposed to sunlight, causing discolouration of the skin rather than scarring.

4. Neonatal lupus: During pregnancy, certain antibodies are passed through the placenta from the mother to the infant, which causes neonatal lupus in the infant.

5. Drug-induced lupus (DIL): DIL is an autoimmune condition that certain medications can cause. Its symptoms are similar to SLE, but it is usually less severe. Over 100 trusted source medications have been identified as potential causes of DIL.


What Causes Lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune condition; however, the cause is unknown. When a person suffers from an autoimmune condition, such as Lupus, their immune system is unable to distinguish between foreign substances and healthy tissue. This is why the body mistakenly perceives itself as foreign [4].

Consequently, the immune system directs antibodies against both healthy tissues and antigens, resulting in swelling, pain, and tissue damage.

It is common for people with autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, to develop antinuclear antibodies. These antibodies target the nucleus of the body's own cells, which contains the genetic material.

Drug-induced lupus can be caused by drugs such as hydralazine (a hypertension medication), procainamide (a heart arrhythmia medication), isoniazid (an antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis), and minocycline (an antibiotic used to treat some skin conditions) [5].


What Are The Symptoms Of Lupus?

Lupus has a wide range of symptoms, such as the following [6]:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Fever
  • Chest pain when breathing deeply
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Memory problems
  • Headaches
  • Unusual hair loss
  • Malar rash, a red, butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks
  • Pale or purple fingers or toes from cold or stress, known as Raynaud's disease
  • Arthritis
  • Symptoms of Lupus in women

    Women are more likely to experience the following symptoms [7]:

    • Hair loss
    • Sensitivity to sunlight
    • Mouth ulcers
    • Arthritis
    • Malar rash
    • Signs of Lupus in men

      Lupus is commonly thought to affect only women, but males can also be affected. In addition, men with Lupus tend to experience more severe symptoms [8].

      Symptoms that occur more commonly in males include:
      • Cardiovascular complications
      • Low blood count
      • Weight loss
      • Kidney complications
      • Chest pain

What Are The Complications Of Lupus?

In addition to the mild to severe symptoms associated with the autoimmune condition, Lupus also affects the following organs [9]:

  • Kidneys
  • Lungs
  • Central nervous system
  • Blood vessels
  • Blood
  • Heart
  • Lupus patients are more likely to contract infections since both the disease and its treatment weaken the immune system. Common infections include urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, yeast infections, salmonella, herpes and shingles.

    The condition can also cause bone tissue death and pregnancy complications.


How Is Lupus Diagnosed?

According to the American College of Rheumatology, the diagnosis of lupus can be confirmed if a person meets four of the 11 criteria.

The 11 criteria are as follows:

1. Malar rash
2. Discoid rash
4.Oral or nose ulcers
5.Nonerosive arthritis
6.Pericarditis or pleuritis
7.Kidney disorder
8.Neurologic disorder
9.Hematologic (blood) disorder
10.Immunologic disorder
11.Positive ANA results

How Is Lupus Treated?

The treatment or management of lupus may be assisted by a variety of treatments and home remedies [10].

It is important to discuss with your doctor whether you should be treated and what medications to use in order to determine whether you should be treated.

Does lupus get worse with age?

Symptoms of lupus decline with age, but those you already have may worsen. The accumulation of damage over time may result in the need for joint replacements or other forms of treatment.

How long does a person with lupus live?

Lupus patients can expect a normal life expectancy if they receive close follow-up and treatment.

What does lupus do to a person?

If you have lupus, you may experience joint pain, skin sensitivities and rashes, and problems with your internal organs (brain, lungs, kidneys, and heart). In addition, you may experience various symptoms in waves, known as flare-ups. Sometimes, lupus symptoms may be mild or non-existent (meaning they have been in remission for some time).

How does a person get lupus?

Some people most likely to develop lupus due to their genes may experience symptoms caused by sunlight, stress, smoking, certain medications, or viruses. The most common cause of lupus is oestrogen, which is higher during pregnancy. Problems with the immune system are also common.

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