Lupus - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Lupus is an autoimmune disease- a condition in which your own body attacks healthy cells and damages them. During an autoimmune reaction, your body perceives its own part as a foreign particle and launches an immune response against it. It is a lifelong condition that needs to be managed properly. Until now, there is no cure for it. 


The symptoms of lupus are inflammation, damage, and swelling of joints, kidneys, blood, heart, lungs, and skin. It is often difficult to diagnose lupus because its symptoms resemble other diseases. The characteristic symptom of it is a rash on both cheeks, having the shape of a butterfly. Due to its varied symptoms, experts call it a disease of 1000 faces. 


Some people are born with a tendency to have lupus that can be triggered upon having an infection or taking certain medicines, or even on exposure to sunlight. 


Symptoms


The signs and symptoms of lupus vary a lot. The two patients having the same disease that is lupus may complain about different symptoms. Lupus may show its signs and symptoms gradually or suddenly. They may remain permanent or temporary, ranging from mild to severe in intensity. Mostly the symptoms are mild, but they may aggravate at times called a flare. After that, they may get better over time. The signs and symptoms of lupus vary, depending on the type of body system involved. It can involve;


  • joints

  • skin

  • lungs

  • brain

  • kidneys

  • heart

  • blood



The most common signs and symptoms of lupus are;



  • headaches

  • confusion

  • memory loss

  • high-grade fever

  • Fatigue and lethargy

  • body aches

  • joint pain

  • rashes- a characteristic butterfly rash on the face

  • lesions on skin

  • shortness of breath

  • Sjogren’s syndrome- that is accompanied by chronic dry eyes and dry mouth

  • pericarditis and pleuritis (pleuritis), which both can cause chest pain



Lupus photosensitivity


Photosensitivity means being sensitive to ultraviolet rays, like that of sunlight, or present in certain types of artificial light. Too much sunlight can be bad for anyone. But people with lupus are more sensitive to sunlight. Upon its exposure, the symptoms of lupus can exacerbate, causing a flare. It can cause the following signs and symptoms upon sun exposure.


  • joint pain

  • internal swelling

  • rashes- that are sensitive to sunlight when the autoantibody SSA (Ro) is present

  • fatigue


Therefore, if you have lupus and are going out, make sure you wear sunscreen to protect yourself. 


Causes


The exact causes of lupus are unknown. But researchers think that the following things can play a role in causing it. 


Environmental triggers like stress, smoking, and exposure to pollutants, and getting exposed to chemicals like silica.


Genetic tendency- having a family history of lupus plays a role in causing it.


Hormones- according to some researches, high levels of estrogen can cause lupus. 


Infections- cytomegalovirus and Epstein barr virus may increase the risk of lupus. 


Drugs and medications- taking drugs like hydralazine, procainamide, and quinidine can cause drug-induced lupus erythematosus (DIL). Medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and ankylosing spondylitis can increase the risk of DIL.



Risk factors


Female gender- women are at more risk of having lupus as compared to men.


Age- people between the age of 15 to 44 are more often diagnosed with lupus. However, it can occur at any age. 


Family history- having a family history of lupus puts you at risk of developing it. 


Conclusion 


Lupus is an autoimmune disease- a condition in which your own body attacks the healthy cells of your body and damages them. During an autoimmune reaction, your body perceives its own part as a foreign particle and launches an immune response against it. It is a lifelong condition that needs to be managed properly. Until now, there is no cure for it.


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