More than 1.5 million individuals in the United States have been diagnosed with Lupus, with a reported 16,000 cases being diagnosed each year. Women of childbearing age (15-44) are more likely to develop Lupus.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can cause damage to any body part (internal organs, joints, skin, etc). It is considered a chronic illness due to the fact that symptoms can last anywhere from 6 weeks to several years.
When an individual has Lupus, the immune system malfunctions. With autoimmune disease such as Lupus, the immune system can't differentiate between foreign germ invaders, and healthy tissue. The immune system creates autoantibodies that power through the body, destroying healthy tissue. This can cause inflammation, increase pain, and cause damage in any area of the body.
When you hear about Lupus, you also hear about "Lupus flares." Lupus flares occur when your body is experiencing increased amount of symptoms, and you feel more ill. When an individual is experiencing a period of time when symptoms have decreased, it is called "Lupus remission."
Symptoms of Lupus
-Butterfly rash across the cheeks and nose.
Lupus is often misdiagnosed, as the symptoms are similar to symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Thyroid problems, Lyme disease, Diabetes, and others.
Testing and treatment
Your doctor will make note of your symptoms and order a round of tests (blood tests, etc). He or she will also ask you about your family's medical history.
It is important to note that many tests are conducted in order to make a correct diagnosis of Lupus. You may be referred to a Rheumatologist who can assist you further in getting a proper diagnosis.
Once a diagnosis has been made, your Rheumy will begin a treatment regimen for you. It may take some time for your doctors to find a combination of medications that keeps your Lupus symptoms under control.
There are many drugs that can assist in controlling the symptoms. Some of these include:
Those with Lupus may be susceptible to contracting other conditions. For this, your doctor may put you on diuretics, high blood pressure medications, anticonvulsants, antibiotics, and bone-strengtheners to protect against osteoporosis.
In severe cases, medications similar to chemotherapy may be used to keep symptoms at bay.
In 2015, I had a close call with being diagnosed with Lupus. During a routine blood test, my doctor noticed that my ANAs were through the roof. He suspected Lupus, so he sent me over to a Rheumatologist. After examining my medical history, blood test results, and hearing my symptoms, he was able to rule out Lupus. That was the most relieved I had felt in a very long time. In my eyes, I see Lupus as a life-threatening illness and I really did see my life flash before my eyes. I was scared leading up to my appointment with the Rheumy.
I did come out of that appointment with a diagnosis, but it wasn't for Lupus. I will discuss this later on in the week, as it is an autoimmune illness.
Lupus is one scary mother. While I don't have it, I have read testimonies from others who have it (some have a pretty bad case of it). These men and women fight daily just to do the most mundane of activities. Can you imagine struggling just to get out of bed, brush your teeth, and comb your hair? A cure for Lupus needs to be found, because this disease is deadly. This is one of the most dangerous autoimmune disease out of the bunch (and there are over 100 known autoimmune diseases).