- Lupus is one of the autoimmune diseases that causes inflammation and pain in the skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, heart, and brain.
- Signs and symptoms of lupus can include chest pains, joint pains, sensitivity to light, and rashes that appear on the cheeks and nose in a butterfly shape.
- There are different kinds of lupus, and its causes vary.
As an autoimmune disease, lupus can cause pain and inflammation to the skin, lungs, kidneys, brain, and heart. Diagnosing lupus is relatively challenging because its signs and symptoms closely resemble that of other diseases. There is still no exact cure for lupus, and doctors only manage and treat the signs and symptoms.
To better inform yourself of this disease, here’s what doctors want you to know about lupus.
Kinds of Lupus
Lupus can be of four kinds, namely:
- Cutaneous lupus – the kind that is limited to the skin.
- Drug-induced lupus – a result of specific medication effects.
- Neonatal lupus – affects babies who have mothers with lupus.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus – the most common form of lupus, which affects many body organs.
Causes of Lupus
The exact cause of lupus is not precise, but it is likely due to genetics and exposure to factors that can trigger lupus development. These factors may include:
- Emotional and physical stress
Signs and Symptoms of Lupus
People with lupus can experience different symptoms. Some may be severe to others, while some may only be mild. It can also develop slowly or appear abruptly, and it may be temporarily or permanently. Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Rashes and skin lesions in different parts of the body
- Pain and swelling of the joints
- Sensitivity to the sun or light
- Chest pain and shortness of breath
- Fatigue, fever, and headache
Risk Factors of Lupus
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, anybody can develop lupus. But there is a higher chance of developing lupus if:
- You have a family member who has lupus.
- You belong to the African American, Asian American, Native American, Hispanic/Latino, and Pacific Islander race.
- You are a woman aged 15-45.
Diagnosis of Lupus
Diagnosing lupus entails careful observation and analysis of each patient because symptoms vary differently for everyone. The symptoms that appear may also characterize other diseases, so it is essential to carry out different confirmatory tests. These tests can be one or all of the following.
Complete Blood Count
This test is done to measure the number of red and white blood cells, platelets, and hemoglobin. People with lupus may show low platelet, red and white blood cell count.
It will indicate if lupus has already affected the kidneys by the increased amount of red blood cells and protein in the urine.
An inflamed lung may indicate that lupus has already affected it.
It can show problems of the different parts of the heart which lupus may have affected.
Kidney and liver assessment
Lupus can also affect these organs, and this test can show to what extent is the damage lupus has created.
Biopsy of the kidney and skin can also be done to assess the effects of lupus.
Treatment of Lupus
There is no specific treatment to cure lupus, but the symptoms are managed by taking certain medications:
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are used for managing pain, swelling, and fever.
- Corticosteroids for reducing inflammation.
- Biologics may help reduce the symptoms.