Ask Your Doctor: LUPUS

anguillian
By anguillian May 22, 2017 11:39 Updated

 

 

Many countries throughout the world use May 10, every year, to bring greater awareness to lupus. This chronic disease is confusing to many individuals including physicians as well. This condition can affect anyone, at any age, and in in many ways. At this time there is no cure for lupus, but treatments can help control symptoms.
What is lupus?
Lupus is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems — including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs.
Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms often resemble those of other ailments. The most distinctive sign of lupus — a facial rash that resembles the wings of a butterfly unfolding across both cheeks — occurs in many but not all cases of lupus.
Some people are born with a tendency toward developing lupus which may be triggered by infections, certain drugs or even sunlight.
The term “lupus” is most often used to describe a more severe form of the condition called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). However, there are several other types of lupus that just affect the skin, including:
• discoid lupus erythematosus
• subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus

Who gets lupus
It is estimated that every day, more than 5 million people worldwide struggle with the health consequences of lupus, an autoimmune disease capable of damaging virtually any part of the body, including the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain. Lupus affects people in all parts of the world. It affects individuals of all ages, but it is most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40. It affects all ethnic groups, but appears to be more common in females.
What are the signs and symptoms of lupus?
The symptoms of lupus can range from mild to life-threatening. The symptoms you have will also depend on what areas of your body the lupus is affecting, but the most common ones include:
• Intense fatigue
• Fever
• Severe joint pain and muscle aches
• Skin rash on the face or body
• Extreme sun sensitivity
• Weight loss
• Chest pain on taking a deep breath
• Nose, mouth, or throat sores
• Enlarged lymph nodes
• Poor circulation in fingers and toes
• Bald patches and hair loss

What causes lupus?
The cause of lupus is not completely known at this time. It is likely that lupus results from a combination of genetics and factors in the environment. It appears that people with an inherited predisposition for lupus may develop the disease when they come into contact with something in the environment that can trigger lupus. Some potential triggers include:
• Sunlight.
• Infections. Having an infection can initiate lupus or cause a relapse in some people.
• Medications. Lupus can be triggered by certain types of anti-seizure medications, blood pressure medications and antibiotics. People who have drug-induced lupus usually see their symptoms go away when they stop taking the medication.

How do you know you have lupus?
Doctors sometimes have a difficult time confirming the diagnosis of lupus because signs and symptoms vary considerably from person to person. Signs and symptoms of lupus may vary over time and overlap with those of many other disorders. No one test can diagnose lupus. After a complete history and physical examination, and various blood tests, a diagnosis is made.
Treatment
There are many drugs available to help control symptoms of lupus. Which drug is used will depend on the individual patient and the specific signs and symptoms. You and your doctor would discuss the pros and cons of individual medications and then a decision is made. Sometimes you might need to change or adjust various medications. With good levels of support from friends, family and healthcare professionals, many people with lupus are able to manage their condition effectively.
Complications of lupus
The vast majority of people diagnosed with lupus will have a normal or near-normal life expectancy. Some people with lupus are at an increased risk of life-threatening complications – such as a heart attack or stroke – as a result of damage to internal organs and tissues.

Conclusion
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. This results in symptoms such as inflammation, swelling, and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, blood, the heart, and lungs. Making the diagnosis can be a challenge, but once the diagnosis is made treatment can commence. There is no cure at this time for lupus, but various medications are available to control the symptoms. If you have signs and symptoms suggestive of lupus, you should make an appointment to see your doctor.
Ask Your Doctor is a health education column and is not a substitute for medical advice from your physician. The reader should consult his or her physician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field are ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

Dr Brett Hodge MB BS DGO MRCOG, is an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and Family Doctor who has over thirty-two years in clinical practice. Dr Hodge has a medical practice in The Johnson Building in The Valley (Tel: 264 4975828).

anguillian
By anguillian May 22, 2017 11:39 Updated

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