Frequently Asked Questions About Lupus

Anyone who’s a fan of the hit TV series “House,” starring Hugh Laurie, knows that lupus inevitably came up as a possible diagnosis for the mysterious condition in the episode (and they were always wrong, except for that time).

The show is right about one thing: Lupus has a wide variety of symptoms, manifests differently in people, and baffles doctors. The condition also tends to mimic many different health conditions, including celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Lupus affects 1.5 million people in the United States, and 9 out of 10 of them are women. Here’s what you need to know about this autoimmune disease.

What is lupus?

Lupus has different forms, but more common is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), approximately 7 out of 10 people with lupus they have SLE. Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks itself. He affects various parts of the bodyincluding the skin, joints, kidneys and brain and is difficult to diagnose due to its wide range of symptoms.

When the body attacks its healthy tissue, may cause Inflammation and sometimes permanent damage to tissues throughout the body.

Who is at higher risk for lupus?

Lupus affects women more than men and particularly affects women between 15 and 44 years old. People of color, including Black/African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American people, have a higher probability of having lupus.

Lupus can run in families. Although many people with lupus do not have other family members with the condition, lupus can be passed from parents to children. According to the Lupus Foundation, 1 in 5 people with lupus have a family history of the condition.

What are the common symptoms of lupus?

Common symptoms of lupus in women can include:

  • Pain in joints and muscles.
  • Fever
  • Rashes on the body, such as a red, butterfly-shaped rash on the cheeks and nose.
  • Chest pain when breathing deeply.
  • Hair loss
  • Sensitivity to light, including sunlight.
  • Kidney problems
  • mouth ulcers
  • Feeling very tired or fatigued
  • Confusion or forgetfulness
  • Dry eyes, eye puffiness and rashes on the eyelids.

What are the early warning signs of lupus?

Early signs of lupus in women may include any of the above, depending on What organs does lupus affect?. One woman might experience a completely different set of symptoms than another. In general, you could first warning:

  • A butterfly-shaped rash, known as a lupus rash.
  • Pain in the joints, muscles or chest.
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • mouth ulcers
  • Fever

What are lupus flares?

Lupus flares are periods when symptoms get worse. Sometimes outbreaks can be mild, but some people may have more serious outbreaks that need medical attention. You may recognize that a flare is coming because you will have certain symptoms, such as feeling more tired or having pain. You may also have a rash or feel dizzy or nauseous.

What are common triggers for lupus flares?

If you can recognize when an outbreak might occur and take steps to get treatment as soon as possible, you can prevent it or at least reduce its severity. Some common things that can trigger or cause a lupus flare are:

  • Not getting enough rest or working too much
  • Spending too much time in the sun or under fluorescent or halogen lights
  • Infection
  • get hurt
  • Suddenly stopping your lupus medications
  • certain medicationsincluding some blood pressure and heart medications

How is lupus diagnosed?

Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can often resemble other health conditions. It takes an average of six years from the time symptoms begin until receiving a diagnosis.

Your healthcare provider (HCP) will ask you about your family and medical history, including what symptoms you have and whether anyone in your family has an autoimmune disease. They will perform a physical exam, particularly looking for skin rashes and other signs of lupus.

You may have tests that can help your doctor find a diagnosis. This could include:

  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA) blood test to show if you make lupus antibodies
  • Urine analysis to check how the kidneys are working.
  • Biopsies to remove a small piece of tissue and look at it under a microscope for signs of autoimmune disease.

How is lupus treated?

If you have been diagnosed with lupus, your doctor may refer you to a rheumatologist or a doctor who specializes in autoimmune conditions.

Treatments for lupus often include medications. Some lupus medications are over-the-counter and others are prescribed by your doctor. These could include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen to help reduce joint swelling and pain.
  • Steroids such as prednisone to help calm the immune system and decrease pain and swelling.
  • Antimalarials to help prevent outbreaks and treat symptoms such as rashes, pain, and fatigue.
  • Biological products (BLyS inhibitors or type I interferons) to help control parts of the immune system that activate lupus and worsen symptoms.
  • Anticoagulants to prevent blood clots.

Other ways to manage lupus can include:

  • Protecting your skin from the sun
  • Stay up to date on your vaccines
  • Get regular health checkups
  • Limit alcohol and do not smoke.

Keep your doctor informed of any changes in your symptoms and keep track of any flare-ups and triggers you notice. Remember, lupus can be difficult to diagnose, but with the right treatment, you can manage your symptoms and learn to live with your condition.

This educational resource was created with the support of Novar.tis, member of the HealthyWomen Corporate Advisory Board.

From the articles on your site

Related articles on the Web

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Register New Account
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart