Healthy Living

How Common is Lupus, and What Does it Look Like?

How Common is Lupus, and what Does it Look Like?

Symptoms

The affected person may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms. Symptoms are not always consistent, as they may flare up or disappear at any time. 

  • Skin sores on areas that are exposed to sun
  • Painful and swollen joints
  • Swollen legs
  • Swelling around eyes
  • Loss of hair
  • Fingers and toes can become pale when the individual is under stress
  • Unexplained fever
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Dry eyes
  • Aching muscles
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the chest while taking a deep breath
  • Fatigue
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Less common symptoms include:

Lupus symptoms

What causes Lupus?

1. An altered immune response
Your immune system is meant to protect your health from unwanted invaders, such as harmful bacteria, germs, and viruses.
For patients with lupus, the immune system works differently; instead of attacking unwanted external agents, it attacks itself because it mistakes your own tissues as foreign invaders.
2. Medications
Lupus can occur due to certain medications, such as Chlorpromazine (an anti-psychotic medicine) and Minocycline (an antibiotic), but most of the time it occurs on its own.
3. Genetics
Lupus is also found to have genetic roots. It is possible to have a higher risk of developing lupus based purely on genetics alone. In such people, lupus can be triggered by an infection, sunlight, trauma, or hormonal changes, such as puberty, child birth, and menopause.

Who Can Get Lupus?

  • Lupus usually affects people between the ages of 15 years old to 44 years old.
  • It’s more likely to occur in women rather than in men. 

How common is Lupus?

  • Research estimated that 1.5 million Americans have lupus.
  • 16,000+ new cases of lupus are reported every year in the U.S.
  • It’s likely that 5 million people throughout the world have some form of lupus.

Different Types of Lupus

1. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Damages vital organs, such as the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, and connecting tissues, like blood vessels, joints, and skin.
2. Discoid Lupus Erythematosus: Affects skin and exhibits a skin rash that doesn’t go on it’s own.
3. Subacute Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus: Sun exposure leading to skin sores.
4. Drug-induced Lupus: Caused by medications.
5. Neonatal Lupus: Affects newborns.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is not that simple. It may take several months to years at times to be diagnosed with lupus because it displays symptoms that are common in other diseases.

The following tools may be used by your doctor to reach a diagnosis: