Among the many modern afflictions that were unknown to our Stone Age ancestors, “lupus” is one of the least understood and of special concern to women of child-bearing age.
Lupus (also known by other names and variations such as Disseminated lupus erythematosus; SLE; Lupus erythematosus; Discoid lupus) is an autoimmune disorder that can affect many parts of the body. The joints, skin, brain, kidneys, lungs, heart and other organs in the body can all be affected by lupus.
What Does Lupus Do?
As an autoimmune disease, lupus causes the immune system to begin attacking healthy tissue in addition to its normal functions. The direct result of this is that the body is continually inflamed, leading to a chronic long-term condition which can increase the risk of many other illnesses.
The symptoms of lupus can vary greatly depending on who it affects. What’s more, symptoms may reoccur on and off throughout a person’s life.
The majority of people who suffer from lupus experience the following conditions:
- Tiredness or fever
- A rash like a butterfly that can cover most of the face
- Lesions of the skin that can get worse in sunlight
- Fingers and toes turning blue when exposed to cold or stress
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain in the chest
- Dry eyes, headaches, memory loss, confusion
Obviously, the above symptoms are very uncomfortable. They reduce the quality of life and a doctor should be seen immediately if you experience any of these signs of lupus.
Who Is at Risk of Lupus?
Even though medical science has not yet identified what directly causes lupus, there are a few risk factors that play a role, such as the environment (stress, smoking, sunlight, certain medications), hormones (particularly estrogen), genetic factors and problems with the immune system.
Although lupus can strike both men and women alike, some 90 percent of those afflicted are women between the ages of 15 and 45. Males are at higher risk before puberty and after age 50, but even among these age groups, two-thirds of all sufferers are female.
How Can Lupus be Treated?
Although there is no cure for lupus, in many cases it is not fatal. Death can occur when the symptoms of lupus trigger another life-threatening ailment, such as an infection that the immune system cannot deal with.
Lupus treatments all center on preventing flare ups of the disease, treating symptoms as soon as they occur and reducing organ damage and other risk factors.
If affected, you should consult with your general practitioner to devise an effective treatment program. Treatment may involve the use of a variety of medications, from inhibitors to antimalarial drugs and even chemotherapy depending, depending on the on degree of affliction.
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