If you’ve experienced symptoms that you believe may be Lupus or that your doctor believes you may be suffering from Lupus, you could be wasting time on the internet, or your brain may be whirling with questions. Let’s discover some important Lupus Facts below!
What do these symptoms mean for the future of your health? What treatment options are available? Are you ever going to feel normal and healthy back? What exactly is Lupus in the first place?
We will answer your most basic questions and much more.
1. Lupus is an autoimmune disease.
It is unclear the causes of Lupus. However, doctors know that symptoms appear because your body’s immune system hasn’t been functioning in the way it is supposed to. Your immune system cells, which are supposed to shield your body from various bacteria, begin treating normal, healthy cells as invaders, creating flare-ups that can cause kidney disease, joint pain, and nearly every other organ in your body.
Also, read 7 Important Facts About Alzheimer Disease
2. The signs of Lupus can be indistinct.
The signs of Lupus can vary depending on the individual and the severity of the affected body parts. The most frequent symptoms of Lupus include joint pain and rash, according to Konstantinos Loupasakis, MD, a rheumatologist from MedStar Washington Hospital Center. However, symptoms may also include the loss of hair, fatigue, mouth sores, as well as fever. “There’s a great range of manifestations we see with lupus,” Loupasakis says.
3. Lupus can be identified at any time.
Women who are pregnant (between 15 to 44) are most likely to develop Lupus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, it’s not just a matter of older adults. According to research published in Nature Reviews Rheumatology, between 10 and 20 percent of those suffering from systemic Lupus were diagnosed before 18. In addition, adults may be affected by “late-onset” lupus diagnosed after 50.
4. Race is an element of risk.
People of color, especially African Americans — are more likely to develop Lupus than whites, while the illness is more likely to affect different populations. Native American and black patients are more likely to die at higher rates than white patients. In contrast, Hispanic and Asian patients are at a lower risk of contracting the disease, according to an analysis of 42,000 cases of Lupus. There is some genetic cause for the condition. However, researchers are studying how socioeconomic factors and other variables contribute to the disparities.
5. Females are at greater risk.
The majority of studies show that around 90% of patients suffering from Lupus are females, as per an analysis published within seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism. The study also revealed that men are more likely to experience more damage at the beginning of the disease and have lower rates. Hormones could play a part in the differences between sexes; however, studies haven’t yet found a conclusive answer, according to Dr. Loupasakis.
6. You’ll need to hire the help of a professional
The signs of Lupus are not clear, and it requires frequent examinations. A general physician will have to send you to specialists if you suspect an autoimmune issue such as Lupus. “When there is concern [that you could have] lupus, a rheumatologist should be involved in evaluating this diagnosis,” states Jason Liebowitz, MD. The latter is a fellow in rheumatology at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. If they can confirm the diagnosis, patients with Lupus should see their rheumatologist once every three to six months. According to Dr. Loupasakis.
7. A blood test may aid, but it’s not an exact diagnosis.
Since Lupus is caused by activation of the immune system, Doctors will look for specific antibodies to determine the cell level. Antinuclear antibodies (ANA) levels are elevated in those who suffer from autoimmune disorders. Around 98 percent of patients suffering from chronic Lupus are positive for an ANA test.
However, that doesn’t mean that all people who have an ANA test that is positive ANA is suffering from the disease. Without or with Lupus, around fourteen percent of the U.S. population shows positive ANA tests, as per the study from 2012, which means doctors cannot rely on just one test to identify Lupus.
8. A diagnosis of Lupus is based on symptoms as well as tests.
Doctors must look at the entire picture with no blood test to confirm a lupus diagnosis. “There is no single finding that defines the diagnosis of lupus,” Doctor. Liebowitz. “It is a condition that can affect the body in many different ways, and thus diagnosis requires putting together the entire clinical picture.”
Suppose rheumatologists suspect that you have an autoimmune disorder. In that case, they’ll consider your symptoms by examining X-rays, biopsies, and blood tests to determine if they match the typical lupus symptoms or if it’s more likely to be a different illness.
9. Lupus may look similar to other ailments.
Other ailments like rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia Lyme disease have symptoms similar to the autoimmune condition known as Lupus. If there isn’t a specific blood test that identifies Lupus or any other autoimmune condition, it may take trial and error for rheumatologists to identify the proper diagnosis.
10. There is no cure for Lupus.
As of now, researchers haven’t discovered an effective treatment for Lupus. However, the illness isn’t a death sentence. With the advent of new medicines, the mortality rate for Lupus has increased over time, and the average life expectancy of those suffering from lupus-related kidney inflammation is about the same as women in similar age groups within the population as a whole, as per a research published from the journal Internal Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology.
12. The use of medicines can be beneficial.
There is no cure for Lupus with drugs, but they can reduce flare-ups. Certain medications can suppress the immune system and hold the antibodies that could otherwise trigger inflammation. “The most important treatment for Lupus is a medication called Plaquenil [hydroxychloroquine]. In general, all patients suffering from Lupus must be taking that medication,” states the Doctor. Liebowitz. “The other medications used in Lupus — which may include mycophenolate mofetil, cyclophosphamide, and other immunosuppressive medications — depend on the symptoms of Lupus and the parts of the body. That has been affected.” A rheumatologist can suggest the most effective treatment for a particular patient.
13. The most commonly seen form.
There is a variety of Lupus. But many people will refer to the most popular type called systemic Lupus. It is sometimes referred to as SLE or systemic Lupus. 70% of people who suffer from Lupus suffer from SLE, as per the Lupus Foundation of America. Compared to other forms of Lupus, it is believed to have a greater severity and most likely impacts an organ of major importance like the kidneys and lungs or the heart.
14. Sometimes, Lupus is restricted to the skin.
Patients suffering from systemic Lupus may develop rashes. However, certain patients suffer from discoid Lupus, which means they may just experience rashes or skin lesions, not joint pain or kidney issues, and other signs found in SLE. Around 17 people with discoid Lupus will have their disease become more systemic. According to a Swedish study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, however, “most of the time, it will never progress,” says Dr. Loupasakis.
15. Certain drugs might trigger lupus symptoms.
If some individuals take certain medications, like isoniazid procainamide and hydralazine, their bodies are prone to overreact and show signs of Lupus. They’ll experience low-grade fever, swelling joints, aches, and rashes in most cases. Sometimes, they’ll also experience a rash. However, more serious issues like kidney inflammation do not tend to manifest, according to Dr. Loupasakis.
The condition is different and distinct from “true” systemic Lupus because it’s not persistent. “In most of these patients, once they stop the medication, the symptoms will go away in a few weeks,” Dr. Loupasakis says.
16. A few newborns are born with Lupus.
Sometimes, mothers suffering from Lupus or antibodies related to it may pass on those antibodies to their infants and cause a type of Lupus known as neonatal Lupus. “‘Bad’ antibodies are transferred from the mother to the baby along with ‘good’ antibodies that are supposed to protect the baby in the first months of their life,” Dr. Loupasakis.
The result usually is lupus-like skin lesions that disappear after a couple of months as babies develop the antibodies themselves, says the Doctor. In rare instances, a child born to mothers with these antibodies can be diagnosed with a condition known as congenital heart block. But mothers-to-be who have Lupus should not worry about it. Two to five percent of infants born to mothers with these antibodies will suffer from congenital heart block, as per an investigation published by Arthritis & Rheumatology. These issues can be detected through ultrasound during pregnancy. The newborns may be dealt with promptly following birth with an implanted pacemaker to regulate the heart’s electrical activity.
17. Lupus can damage the kidneys.
If left untreated, inflammation that runs all over the body could cause serious problems. In the case of Lupus, damage to the kidneys is an enormous issue. Between 40 and 70 percent of patients with Lupus suffer from kidney inflammation. An article published in Nature Reviews, Nephrology and renal failure is one of the most common complications.
“Unfortunately, we often see that, especially in patients who did not present to us early enough,” Dr. Loupasakis. The lifespan of those with kidney failure or disease is between three and ten years lower than a lupus patient with no kidney issues, as per the study that included 700 Hong Kong patients.
18. The condition also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Indirectly, Lupus may result in cardiovascular problems. According to Doctor, Lupus isn’t directly affecting the heart, but the inflammation it causes can accelerate the development of blood clots.
Heart disease is the most frequent cause of death among those who have suffered from Lupus for longer than five years, as per the study published by Current Cardiology Reviews. One way to lower your chance of suffering from heart disease is to follow the Mediterranean diet centered around healthy fish and vegetables and avoid red meat, as recommended by Dr. Loupasakis.