Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect any part of the body, including the skin, joints and organs. This condition is considered chronic because symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks, and may last many years.
Lupus Damages the Immune System
The immune system is the tool that the body uses to fight all types of diseases. This is why it is important to have an immune system that functions properly. In patients with lupus, the immune system malfunctions, causing it to stop protecting the body from viruses, bacteria and germs.
Normally, the immune system produces antibodies, a type of protein that is responsible for keeping invaders like bacteria away. In someone with an autoimmune disease, the immune system can no longer tell the difference between foreign intruders and the body’s healthy tissues. Therefore, it creates autoantibodies that attack and demolish healthy cells, causing inflammation, pain and damage in various parts of the body.
Most people only develop mild symptoms of lupus during their lifetime. Symptoms can be controlled and lasting damage can be avoided with the help of medical supervision, medication, rest, and proper exercises. However, it is a lifelong disease and can develop into a more severe condition at any time.
The most common and most serious type of lupus is systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE, but there are several other types as well. This include discoid or cutaneous lupus, drug-induced systemic lupus, and neonatal lupus.
The exact cause of lupus has not yet been discovered. Experts believe that certain people are born with genes that have the ability to suppress the immune system, which eventually leads to the onset of lupus. The cause varies from case to case, but lupus can be triggered by a variety of factors. These include everything from sunlight to viral infections, like mononucleosis.
Lupus symptoms may vary wildly. At times, a patient may notice their symptoms worsen temporarily. These episodes are called flares or relapses. The times when symptoms are under control are called remissions.
Common symptoms of lupus include fatigue, joint paint or swelling, arthritis, fever and skin rash. Rashes typically appear due to sun exposure. There are also cases in which people experience mouth sores and hair loss, as well as problems with the heart, lungs, kidneys, blood cells and nervous system.
It is not easy to diagnose lupus because it can affect people in such different ways, and most symptoms can be associated with other diseases. In general, a medical doctor will examine the patient, discuss his or her symptoms and past health issues, and may test the urine and blood for indicators of lupus.
Additional facts about lupus that you should know
Lupus is not a contagious disease and cannot be passed on through sexual contact. It is impossible to give lupus to someone else.
There is no link between lupus and cancer. Cancer is a disease in which malignant, abnormal tissues grow rapidly and spread into other tissues. In contrast, lupus is an autoimmune disease.
Although many people incorrectly believe that lupus is related to HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), they are unrelated. HIV and AIDS are diseases that result in an underactive immune system, while lupus, occurs when an immune system is overactive.
Almost five million people suffer from lupus. Most people develop lupus between the ages of 15-44, and it is more common among women.