The month of May happens to be the Lupus Awareness Month. Many people are unaware of what lupus is, what its symptoms are and who it affects. Hence, we have an entire month dedicated to raising awareness around this disease.
You might not be suffering from lupus, but it is always better to be knowledgeable about it.
So, let us begin.
What is Lupus?
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that is said to affect many parts of the body. During lupus, your immune system doesn’t function properly. Normally, our immune system produces proteins known as antibodies that protect our body from foreign invaders.
The term ‘chronic’ means that the signs and symptoms last longer than six weeks and often for many years. Whereas the term ‘autoimmune’ states that the immune system is unable to differentiate between foreign invaders and the body’s healthy tissues.
Therefore, people suffering from lupus go through pain, inflammation, and damage in various parts of their body.
What Are The Symptoms?
Lupus is difficult to diagnose because the signs and symptoms it depicts are often those of other ailments. One of the most distinctive signs of lupus is a facial rash that resembles the wings of a butterfly unfolding across both cheeks.
As a matter of fact, no two cases of lupus are exactly alike. The signs and symptoms of the disease tend to occur either suddenly or develop over a period of time. They can either be mild or severe and even temporary or permanent.
The signs and symptoms of lupus differ in every troubled individual. It mainly depends on which body systems are affected by the disease. Some of the most common signs and symptoms are as follows:
- Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
- A butterfly-shaped rash across the face
- Skin lesions – tend to worsen with sun exposure
- Fingers and toes turn white or blue when exposed to cold or when overstressed.
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Dry eyes
- Headache, confusion and memory loss
There are instances where people experience symptoms in one body system. However, there have been times when many body systems are affected due to the disease. Lupus also seems to affect body organs such as the lungs, kidneys, central nervous system, blood and blood vessels, and heart.
What Causes Lupus?
You might be suffering from lupus if your immune system attacks the healthy tissues in your body. In most cases, people who have a tendency for lupus (mainly inherited) may develop the disease when they come into contact with something in the environment that triggers it.
However, in most cases, the cause is unknown. Some things that are most likely to trigger the disease are:
- Sunlight – Prolonged exposure to the sun may bring lupus on skin lesions or trigger an internal response.
- Infections – Infections can initial lupus or cause a relapse.
- Medications – Lupus can get triggered due to blood pressure medications, anti-seizure medications, and antibiotics. However, people who suffer from drug-induced lupus tend to get better when they stop consuming the medication.
Who Might Get The Disease?
It is well-observed that over 90 percent of the people with lupus are women (mainly between the age group of 15 to 44).
The treatment and medication for the disease are solely dependent on the individual’s form of lupus and how severe it is. For those suffering the disease without having their organs affected can get better with conservative treatment. However, for those with serious symptoms, it is essential to stop the body from attacking itself to prevent long-term damage or future complications.
Some of the treatments include,
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Antimalarial drugs – hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
- Corticosteroids and Immune Suppressants
- Biologics – specially formulated drugs for targeting parts of the immune system to alleviate symptoms
You might be put on one or more of these drugs depending on your situation at the given time.
The Final Call
Remember that people with lupus can lead a normal life. Over the years, the treatment has developed. However, we understand how difficult it is to cope up with a chronic disease that limits your activity. Moreover, treatment and medication can take a toll on your finances.
Thus, it is highly advisable to have medical insurance under your name. There are many health insurance plans available in the market that provide maximum coverage at minimum premiums. So, if you do not have health insurance, get one today!