Lupus: What is it?
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes damage to all parts of the body including the skin, joints, and internal organs.
Our body has an immune system that is responsible to fight against germs and protect us from disease. The cells of the immune system recognize foreign bodies and produces antibodies against them to protect our body against these foreigners. However, in a disease like lupus, the body fails to differentiate between foreign cells and the body's own cells. So, they begin to attack our body cells and damage the body tissues and organs. This is the reason why lupus is called an autoimmune disorder.
Lupus is a disease with flares (periods where the disease produces symptoms and you become ill) and remissions (periods where the symptoms resolve and you start to feel better).
Facts About Lupus
- It is not a contagious disease, which means that it does not spread from one person to another by any means, not even through sexual contact. Contact with a person diagnosed with lupus will not give you the disease.
- Lupus is not similar to Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Neither is it related nor alike to each other. The immune system in AIDS is poorly active, whereas in lupus, the immune system is overactive.
- Although similar drugs may be used in treatment for cancer, Lupus is not a form of cancer. A cancer is a continuous uncontrollable growth of cells but lupus is an autoimmune condition where our immune cells begin to attack our own cells.
- Anyone, male or female can develop lupus, but females are more likely to develop the disease compared to males.
- The most common age of incidence is between 15 years old to 44 years old.
- Symptoms of lupus can vary from a very mild form to a severe life-threatening disease. However, any form of the disease should be treated by a doctor. If you are treated properly and well, then you can lead a normal life like every other healthy individual.
- There are several types of lupus. They are: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (CLE), Drug induced Lupus, and Neonatal Lupus. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is the most common form of Lupus.
- Lupus not only affects adults, it can affect children as well. The usual age of occurrence in children is above 15 years old. Lupus in children can affect the kidneys largely.
Common Symptoms of Lupus:
- Fever with headache
- Joint pain and swelling
- Appearance of a rash
Lupus is difficult to diagnose because there is no single test available to diagnose lupus. However, there are many laboratory tests that can be done and by excluding other causes of the presentation, doctors can easily diagnose lupus.
Although there is no cure for the disease, there are several medications available to relieve the signs and symptoms of lupus and help the individual to carry out a normal lifestyle like any other healthy individual. The correct medical care can help the patient to lead a normal life.