Lupus: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments
Lupus is a chronic disease that mainly affects women. Up to 90% of all cases in Dubai are females. It is important for this disease to have early intervention as it has the potential to do serious damage in the body and may even lead to fatality.
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This life-threatening disease should not be taken lightly as there is no cure for it. This is why it’s important to develop a better understanding of it, including its symptoms, causes, and treatments.
What is Lupus?
Lupus is a chronic disease where inflammation runs throughout the whole body. This autoimmune disease means your body’s own immune system is responsible for the inflammation as it will attack its own cells.
The inflammation in lupus can begin to break down vital organs and tissues in your body that can leave you in serious condition. Common parts of the body subject to inflammation from lupus include:
- Blood cells
At this stage and like all autoimmune diseases, there is currently no cure. It’s important to know the symptoms of lupus in order to intervene early and not let it develop into severe stages. Symptoms of lupus can flare up at any time, and symptoms can be felt from mild to severe. No two cases of lupus are the same, and its symptoms may vary. Common symptoms of lupus include:
- Common cold
- Weakness and fatigue
- Body ache
- Muscle and joint ache
- Skin Lesions
- Chest pain
- Memory loss
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
While there is no exact known cause for lupus, there are many factors as well as combining factors that may be the cause of lupus.
- Environmental – Doctors have identified that environmental factors can be potential triggers for lupus. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, stress, and exposure to harmful toxins can all trigger lupus.
- Genetics – Those who have a family history of lupus are more likely to develop the disease themselves.
- Hormonal – studies have suggested that abnormal hormone levels may contribute to the development of lupus. Studies have suggested that an increase in estrogen levels in women can increase the risk of lupus.
- Infections – Doctors are currently studying the cause and effect relationship between the causes of lupus and infections such as hepatitis C, Estepein-Barr, and cytomegalovirus.
- Medications – Certain medications such as hydralazine, quinidine, procainamide are all linked with causing lupus. Long term use of these medications may also increase the risk.
Having the below risk factors does not necessarily mean that you will get lupus and not qualifying in any of the below risk factors guarantee you won’t get lupus. However, the people who fall under the below risk factors are more likely to develop lupus than others
- Being 15 to 44 years old
- Being a certain ethnicity, particularly African, Hispanic, Asian, Polynesian, or native American.
- A family history of lupus
Although there is still no cure for lupus, doctors will most likely prescribe you with medications and treatments to help you manage the disease and manage it from worsening. The doctor will consider the medications and treatments depending on your personal condition and how bad the condition has become. Examples of medications the doctor will give you are:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- DHEA, a male hormone that can reduce symptoms of lupus
- Immunosuppressive drugs
- Dietary supplements may also be recommended by your doctor including, flaxseed oil, fish oil, and multivitamins
Four Types of Lupus
Doctors will often distinguish four different types of lupus. These are:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus: This is the most common type of lupus and can range from mild to severe.
- Cutaneous lupus: This is when lupus mostly or only affects the skin. It may cause rashes, skin lesions, as well as permanent scarring.
- DILE: This is when lupus is caused by long term medication. It is like systemic lupus but does not affect major organs as systemic lupus will.
- Neonatal lupus: This type of lupus occurs very rarely and affects infants whose mothers have the condition. Symptoms of neonatal lupus include skin rashes low blood count as well as liver problems after birth.
Many doctors and health experts believe the following lifestyle changes may decrease the likelihood of lupus from occurring:
- Practice stress management techniques
- Practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of infections
- Avoid direct sunlight to protect your skin health
For most cases of lupus, it simply isn’t preventable. However, if you have a family history of lupus or are under any of the risk factors, its good to get regular check-ups with the doctor for the condition. Also seeing the doctor regularly means that if lupus is present in your health, it can be treated quickly.
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