Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system of the body becomes hyperactive and starts attacking normal necessary tissues and organs. This may result in various symptoms such as inflammation, protrusion, damages to kidney, skin issues, etc. Lupus resulted inflammation may affect different systems of the body including the heart, lungs and brain functioning as well. However, it may be difficult to diagnose Lupus as its symptoms may resemble symptoms caused by other medical anomalies. The condition can be of different types, however the most common type which is known simply as Lupus; is technically called as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE. There are also some other types of Lupus which includes discoid, neonatal and drug induced Lupus.
Types of Lupus
Discoid lupus is often restricted to skin. This condition is commonly characterized by skin rashes appearing on scalp, face and neck. The condition however has no influence on the internal organs. It is also recorded that less than 10 percent people suffering from this condition progress to its systemic form. There is no prevention method for this occurrence. Systemic form of the condition is comparatively severe than discoid form as it can influence any body organ and its system.
Drug Induced Lupus
Drug induced lupus is primarily caused due to reaction of certain medicine. This condition may have similar symptoms to SLE. Common drugs which may cause the condition includes hydralazine (a medicine given for dealing with hypertension) and procainamide (this drug is heart arrhythmia medication). There are other 400 medications recorded in the medical industry that may lead to the condition. It is also believed that this condition subside with cessation of the triggering drug.
Neonatal lupus is one of the rare types of the medical irregularities that occur when the fetus gets supplied with auto-antibodies by the mother. The unborn child or infant may have skin rashes, heart or blood related complications. Usually rashes may appear initially but may ebb away within first six months of life of the child.
Risk of Lupus
Lupus is said to be more frequent in women as compared to men. The condition is more common in people aging between 15 years to 40 years; however, people of any age may get affected with it. There are certain sects in which the condition is frequently recorded these may include African American, Asians and Hispanics.
Causes of Lupus
Doctors do not confirmedly know what causes the condition or even other autoimmune diseases. It is hypothetically assumed that the condition may result out of genetic issues or environmental stimulation or both.
Lupus also occurs in families which is why doctors believe that the condition may occur due to genetic influence. However, there are no certain genes that may cause the irregularity directly. It is further hypothesized that possibly a genetic predisposition when combined with environmental trigger may lead to the condition.
Some experts believed that the disease may get stimulated due to contribution of certain hormones. This theory exists based on the fact that the condition is common in women than men. In some cases estrogens are held responsible for progression of the disease as it is recorded to flare during pregnancy and before menstrual cycle.
Environmental trigger that may contribute to cause lupus includes:
- Intense stress
- Excessive exposure to UV rays especially from sun
- Exposure to chemical such as trichloroethylene which is sometimes present in dust and well water
- Extreme stress
Symptoms of Lupus
Lupus is a very unpredictable condition as no two cases of SLE is the same. Symptoms of the disease may start spontaneously or may develop over the course of time. This medical irregularity may be of mild and temporary nature or it can be extremely severe and permanent. People suffering from this condition may experience episodes of ‘flares’ wherein the symptoms may aggravate and worsen for short period and then alleviate or disappear for some time. The signs and symptoms of the condition may depend on the affected body region. Some common signs and symptoms include:
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Pain in the joint
- Joint stiffness and swelling
- Butterfly pattern rashes appearing on the face, particularly nose and cheeks
- Lesions on skin that may aggravate with exposure to sun
- Fingers and toes may become whitish or bluish in cold or due to stress
- Breathing issues
- Pain in chest
- Dry eyes
- Memory loss or confusion
Is lupus contagious?
Lupus is not a contagious condition. It cannot be passed from affected person to another person. The condition cannot be passed even through sexual contact. This disease is an autoimmune irregularity wherein the immune system cannot distinguish between body’s own cells and tissues and foreign invaders. This is why it is dissimilar from cancer which is a malignant condition. It is also dissimilar from HIV/AIDS because in this condition the immune system is underactive while in lupus it is overactive.
The treatment for lupus would be suggested based on symptoms and signs as experienced by the affected individual. Depending on the fluctuations associated with experienced symptoms your dosages and medicines may have to be altered regularly. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory Drugs or NSAIDs are over the counter medicines such as naproxen, ibuprofen which may be suggested to deal with pain, fever and swelling caused by SLE. Anti-malarial drugs such as hydroxychloroquine can also be used control lupus.
There are different types of corticosteroids that can be used in case of Lupus; Prednisone is one of the common corticosteroids that are often prescribed. These medicines may cause side-effects such as increase in weight, easy bruising, bone thinning, hypertension, diabetes and vulnerability infection, etc. Immune suppressants are medications that are used to suppress immune system activity. This may be helpful as SLE associated with hyperactivity of immune system. Cyclophosphamide, azathioprine, leflunomide, methotrexate and mycophenolate are some immune suppressant medicine which can serve the purpose. These medicines may also cause side-effect such as infertility, cancer risk, liver damage, etc. It is wise to consult a doctor before taking any medicine for dealing with Lupus or there are chances of unknown side-effects.
Life Expectancy with Lupus
Almost 90 percent of people affected with lupus, lead a normal life expectancy, just like any other human being. In the last few years, there has been a huge leap in medical research and better medication has resulted in longer life-span. Prognosis does depend on the severity of the disease, and timely care, healthy life style and better stress management can cause a person to live a healthy existence.