Five million people worldwide suffer from lupus. It’s a chronic condition autoimmune disease, this means the immune system attacks healthy tissue in the skin, joints, and organs instead of protecting the body from foreign substance (like bacteria or viruses).
The main symptoms are ongoing inflammation and pain. While there are different types of lupus, the most common type is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Other types of lupus are:
- Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) – chronic skin condition
- Drug-induced lupus – SLE-like symptoms provoked by medication use
- Neonatal lupus – temporary lupus affecting a foetus or newborn baby.
The following information focuses on SLE.
SLE is a systemic lupus condition. This means that the entire body is affected by the disease.
It can range from mild to life-threatening depending on the parts of the body being targeted by the immune system. People with milder forms of lupus can manage the symptoms and live a full life. Lupus is only life threatening in rare cases.
Attacks on the skin and joints are painful and can have a big impact on a person’s quality of life, but the damage lupus can cause to major organs (like the kidneys and nervous system) has much more serious consequences.
According to the experts at House Call Doctor, the cause of lupus is still unknown, but it appears that genes and trigger events, such as illness or injury, may be factors.
Diagnosing lupus is difficult because no single test is existing that is able to. The symptoms differ from person-to-person and are similar to other conditions, making it hard to pinpoint.A definitive lupus diagnosis may take months or years to achieve.
Symptoms of lupus can include the following:
- Skin rashes
- Joint and muscle pain
- Hair loss
- Mouth and nose ulcers
- Chest pain
- Poor kidney function
- Seizures and visual disturbances
It’s unlikely a person will experience all lupus symptoms at once. Symptoms tend to become more intense at certain times, which is called a flare. Flares are unpredictable, but can be triggered by stress and exposure to UV light.
While there is no cure for lupus, it can be managed effectively by using medication and making lifestyle changes. Effective and early management of the condition reduces the chance of complications in the future.
There is no one treatment that works for everyone because of the different symptoms people experience.
Medications can include:
- Pain-relieving medication
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Hydroxychloroquine medications or ‘anti-malarials’
- Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs
Non-medical treatments that can be used to help manage lupus include:
- Learning about your condition – knowing potential flare triggers, how to manage pain etc.
- Managing exposure to UV light
- Exercising regularly
- Learning ways to manage pain
- Managing stress
- Balancing rest and activity
- Eating well
- Staying at work.
If you have any concerns about lupus, please contact a health professional.