May 10th is known as World Lupus Day. It was created and sponsored by the World Lupus Federation. The day is meant to bring attention to lupus’s impact around the world. It focuses on the need to improve the patient’s healthcare, increase research into causes and cures for lupus, being able to earlier diagnose lupus and better treatment options.
So…What is Lupus?
Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disorder that can damage any part of one’s body, including the skin, joints, and/or organs. It is labeled as chronic because it lasts more than 6 weeks, oftentimes it lasts for many years. When a person has lupus, there is something wrong with his/her immune system. In those without lupus, the immune system protects the body from foreign bacteria, viruses, etc. The immune system does this by producing antibodies. When a person has an autoimmune disorder, like lupus, their immune system cannot determine the difference between the body’s healthy cells and those foreign cells that it usually fights against. The immune system starts to create antibodies which attack and even destroy healthy tissues within the body. This attack can end up causing inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.
Who Gets Lupus?
It is estimated that more than 5 million people worldwide are living with lupus. It is known as a potentially fatal autoimmune disease, which can attack ANY part of one’s body. It is found all over the world, among different ages, races, ethnicities, and genders. Some groups do tend to develop lupus more frequently. This is what makes lupus a global health issue, therefore World Lupus Day was created to raise awareness.
Symptoms of Lupus
- Extreme Fatigue
- Painful/Swollen Joints
- Swelling in Feet, Legs, Hands, and/or around Eyes
- Sun/Light Sensitivity
- Pain in chest with deep breathing
- Hair Loss
- Abnormal Blood Clotting
- Fingers turn white/blue when cold (Known as Raynaud’s phenomenon)
- Mouth or nose ulcers
Different people with lupus have different symptoms associated with it. It is important for your doctor to be made aware of your different symptoms so they can keep up with progression of the disease.
Treatment for Lupus
The key for successful treatment of lupus is finding a doctor who will coordinate your treatment based on your specific condition. The right doctor will be able to treat your specific form of lupus, as all cases are different.
There are a wide variety of medications available to treat lupus and its symptoms. Only a few have been labeled by the FDA as appropriate for treatment of lupus, but some are used to simply treat symptoms of lupus.
The goal of lupus treatment is pretty much the same across the board for all people diagnosed with lupus. The goal is to reduce inflammation, suppress the overactive immune system, prevent flare-ups and treat them as they occur, control joint pain and fatigue, and minimize any damage to your organs.
It is important that you stay in communication with your doctor about any symptoms that you may be having. Regular visits to your rheumatologist are important for your health.
It is also vital for individuals who have been diagnosed with lupus to remember that they are not alone! There are many support groups either online or actual live meetings that individuals can attend to talk to people who are in similar situations to them. A diagnosis of lupus can be a tough pill to swallow, so it is nice that there is support for those individuals in this situation.
For more information about lupus, check out this sites: