What Is Lupus
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune and inflammatory disease. In a patient with Lupus, the immune system that was originally designed to protect the body turns against itself. This in turn leads to inflammation, and chronic inflammation over time damages the body’s organs and tissues.
Although Lupus can affect almost any part of the body, the organs mostly affected are the kidneys, heart, lungs, and brain. Lupus can also affect the joints, blood vessels and skin.
Of those diagnosed, 80% will be between the ages of 15 and 45 years old. Lupus is a complicated disease to understand. When a patient is diagnosed with Lupus or is being tested for it, a number of questions can pop into their minds including:
“Where does it come from?”
“How long will I have it for?”
“Is Lupus contagious?”
“What are the different types of Lupus?”
To begin, the cause of Lupus is not yet known. It is believed that different pieces such as genetics, the patient’s environmental factors and/or triggers, and hormones might fit together to make up the mysterious puzzle that is known as Lupus. It is important to note that Lupus is not contagious.
Studies are being conducted to determine whether genes, medications, stress or certain viruses bring about the disease. Although there is no cure for Lupus at the moment, most cases can be effectively controlled with medication. Research is continuously being done on Lupus and new medications are being created.
Most Lupus patients lead active or semi-active lives. Lupus patients can have periods where their disease is not active, otherwise known as a remission period, and they can have periods where it is active, also known as a “flare up.”
Each Lupus patient is different and it is often said in the Lupus community that no two patients are alike. Over time, you will learn more about your body and how Lupus affects you.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Are you in the process of being diagnosed with Lupus or another autoimmune disease?
Diagnosing Lupus has proven to be difficult over the years. Depending on who you ask, you might be told it took anywhere from a year to several years for a Lupus patient to be properly diagnosed. This is one of the reasons Lupus is called the “great imitator.” Lupus symptoms come and go, and they can mimic many other diseases.
Research study shows that patients average time span between initial symptoms and diagnosis was six years!
A Rheumatologist, a physician who specializes in connective tissue diseases, often diagnoses Lupus. Other physicians who might test and diagnose Lupus include your primary doctor, a dermatologist, a kidney specialist, heart specialist and more. Diagnosis is typically made through consideration of your symptoms and blood work results.
Treatments vary between patients, as there are different types of Lupus and it is said no two cases are alike. Depending on your symptoms and severity of Lupus, treatment may include steroids, anti-malarials, immunosuppressants, chemo, and other medications.