"Systemic lupus erythematosus, commonly known as lupus, is a chronic autoimmune disease that happens when the body's immune system starts attacking its own tissues and organs." Selena Gomez was diagnosed with lupus disease, which caused her kidneys to fail and she received a life-saving kidney donation from her actress friend Francia Raisa.
Many people around the world aren't even aware of this condition, which can start off with tiredness and joint pain.
So, What Is Lupus?
Lupus is an illness in which the immune system produces too many antibodies that cause reactions, leading to inflammation in the joints, skin and other organs.
Normally, the immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from viruses, bacteria and germs. But, when you have lupus, the immune system goes wrong and cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body's healthy tissues.
And the antibodies start attacking the body's healthy cells and tissues, causing inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body. This is the primary cause of lupus.
Surprising Facts About Lupus Disease
- Lupus is a condition that has no cure, but the symptoms can be controlled through medication.
- Lupus isn't a contagious disease; but often it is unnoticeable.
- Lupus is more common in women than men.
- Around 5 million people worldwide suffer from some form of lupus.
- The disease is often diagnosed by a blood test, which will show up a high number of antibodies if the condition is present.
- Severe lupus can cause irrevocable damage to the kidneys, lungs, heart and brain and mild lupus will cause tiredness, joint and skin problems.
- The risk factors of lupus could be exposure to sunlight, prescription medications, exposure to certain chemicals, etc.
- Lupus can result from environmental factors and genetic factors.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Lupus?
Lupus can affect everyone differently, so some people may have a few mild symptoms and others may have severe symptoms. The symptoms and signs can start in early adulthood. The symptoms may include the following:
- Hair loss
- Kidney problems
- Swollen joints
- Pulmonary problems
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Dry mouth and eyes
- Thyroid problems
It is said that about 90 percent of people with lupus experience fatigue. This could lead to sleeping during the day, and sleeping too much that can lead to insomnia at night. Lupus sufferers may find it difficult to stay active and stick to a daily routine. This may decrease the energy levels in their body.
One of the early signs and symptoms of lupus is fever for no apparent reason. The temperature of your body may hover somewhere between 98.5˚F and 101˚F. People with lupus may experience fever, which can come and go. This kind of fever could be a symptom of inflammation or infection.
3. Hair Loss
Losing your hair is another symptom of lupus. It is the result of inflammation of the skin and scalp. More often, your hair thins out and you start losing a lot of hair. Also, some people may experience thinning of the eyebrows, eyelashes, beard and other body hair. The treatment of lupus could be renewed hair growth, but if there are lesions on the scalp, it may remain permanent.
4. Kidney Problems
People with lupus develop kidney problems and the inflammation makes it more harder for the kidneys to filter out toxins and waste from the blood. The symptoms of the kidney problems include swelling in the lower legs and feet, high blood pressure, darker urine, blood in the urine, urinating more frequently at night, and pain on one side.
5. Swollen Joints
Inflammation can cause stiffness, pain and swelling in your joints, which happens in the morning. The inflammation may be mild at first; but gradually it may start increasing. You should visit your doctor as soon as you notice this symptom.
6. Pulmonary Problems
Inflammation also occurs in the pulmonary system, where the lungs become inflamed and the swelling can extend to the lung's blood vessels. The diaphragm may also get affected due to this. All these can cause chest pain, which is often referred to as pleuritic chest pain. Breathing problems can also occur as well.
One of the most common symptoms of lupus is a butterfly-shaped rash that appears on both the cheeks and nose. It is said that around 50 percent of people with lupus have this rash. This occurs when you are exposed to sunlight. Also, lupus can cause hives and non-itchy lesions in the body.
8. Gastrointestinal Problems
Gastrointestinal problems like heartburn, acid reflux and other such gastric issues is a symptom. Though mild symptoms can be treated with OTC antacids, severe ones could lead to frequent bouts of acid reflux or heartburn. You will need to cut down on the size of your meals, and avoid beverages containing caffeine.
9. Dry Mouth And Eyes
Lupus sufferers may experience dry mouth and their eyes may feel dry too. That's because some people with lupus develop Sjogren's disease that is responsible for the eye glands to bring out tears and saliva to malfunction, and lymphocytes that accumulate in the glands. Women may also experience dryness in the vagina too.
10. Thyroid Problems
The thyroid gland helps control your body's metabolism. A poor thyroid gland can affect the vital organs like your brain, heart, kidneys, and liver. It could also lead to unwanted weight gain and weight loss. Other symptoms may include dry skin, hair and moodiness.
Treatments For Lupus
There is no cure but early treatments of the symptoms can reduce the risk of getting it worse and can help control the symptoms. To manage the kidney problems and rashes, steroid tablets, injections and creams are issued to the sufferers. Anti-inflammatory medicines are also given - like ibuprofen and hydroxychloroquine - which are also used for treating fatigue, skin and joint problems.
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