Systemic lupus erythematosus is a disease of the immune system. Normally, the immune system protects the body from infections however the immune system inappropriately attacks tissues in various parts of the body. This abnormal activity of the immune system leads to tissue damage and illness.
Lupus can affect almost any organ ;brain, heart, lung,kidney, skin, muscles and blood.It is often diagnosed in persons aged 15-45years. It is more prominent in females than males. Also more prevalent in African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Caucasians
Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms often mimic those of other diseases. The most distinctive sigm of lupus is a facial rash that resembles the wings of a butterfly unfolding across both cheeks. This may occur in many but not all cases of lupus.
Some people are born with the tendency toward developing lupus which maybe triggered by factors such as infections, drugs (Methyldopa) or even sunlight.
CAUSES OF LUPUS
The main cause of lupus is unknown. Factors that may contribute to the cause of lupus includes viruses, environmental chemicals, persons genetic makeup and female hormones are believed to play a great role in the development of lupus. Research reveals that often times women in their reproductive years are at high risk of lupus.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF LUPUS
Diagnosing lupus may be a tricky as signs and symptoms tend to mimic other illnesses. Most people with lupus have mild disease characterized by episodes of flares. This may improve overtime or even disappear for awhile.
Common signs and symptoms of lupus include;
*Headaches, confusion and memory loss.
*Shortness of breath
*Joint pain,stiff joints and swelling
*Fatigue and fever
*Butterfly shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and nose
*Sensitivity to the sun
*Fingers and toes turn white or blue during stressful situations or cold weathers.
*Medications (Methyldopa and Sulfa containing medicines)
TYPES OF LUPUS
There are many kinds of lupus. The most common type ,systemic lupus erythematosus affects many parts of the body. Other types are;
*Discoid lupus erythematosus: causes a skin rash that doesn’t go away.
*Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus: causes skin sores on the body exposed to the sun
*Drug induced lupus: can be caused by medications
*Neonatal lupus: a rare type of lupus that affects newborns
TREATMENT OF LUPUS
There is no cure for lupus currently however the type of treatment prescribed will depend on the person’s signs and symptoms presented. Hence treatment is based on signs,symptoms and results from laboratory. As the signs and symptoms subside, your doctor may find that you may need to change medications or dosages.
Common medications used to control lupus;
*Non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): popularly known as pain killers,they are used to manage pain accompanied by lupus.
*Anti-malarials:also help control lupus.
*Corticosteroids:helps with the inflammations of lupus.
*Immunosuppressants: suppresses the immune system hence minimises the frequent flare yp attacks.