Lupus is a chronic and deadly disease. It is rumoured to be contagious. This is why people avoid and discriminate against Lupus patients.  Though the disease is not communicable, it is very painful. There are also several myths, superstitions attached. People should be more aware and kind towards the patients. This blog on “What is Lupus Disease?” is to break the taboo around this disease.

What is Lupus Disease?

In Lupus, the human body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. It is a long term autoimmune disease. It causes inflammation, swelling and can damage the skin, joints, blood, kidneys, lungs and heart. Patients with Lupus often experience escalating pains.

It commonly affects women between the ages of 15 and 44 years. Though the symptoms may start from 15 to 30 years. It is not contagious. It can not be transmitted from one person to another sexually or otherwise. However, a mother can give birth to a child who can develop neonatal Lupus.

“Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and twice as beautiful as you’ve ever imagined.” – Dr. Seuss

Types of Lupus

Lupus is a general name that we know of because of the lack of awareness. However, the disease has several forms and types. In this blog on What is The Lupus Disease, let us look briefly at the types of Lupus.

The different kinds of Lupus include Systematic Lupus Erythematous (SLE), Discord, Drug-induced and Neo-Natal Lupus.

Discord Lupus affects only the skin by causing rashes.

SLE Lupus can range from being mild to severe. It affects many parts of the body in various ways. It turns severe when internal organs of the body such as the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys are affected. The most common Lupus is SLE, because of its severity.

Neonatal Lupus occurs in babies whose mothers have autoantibodies relating to Lupus. These babies can develop skin rashes at birth, low blood counts or even liver problem to some extent.

What are the symptoms of Lupus?

The early signs of Lupus are easily dismissed. Because it’s symptoms are very similar to those of other known conditions. Different people develop different symptoms. Early symptoms include extreme high fever, hair loss, skin rash, fatigue. Also numbness, swollen joints, thyroid problems, dry mouth and eyes, kidney problems and pulmonary problems.

The main cause of Lupus is unknown. Clinically, Lupus is diagnosed with patient medical history. Laboratory data analysis and physical examination. It is highly believed that people with genetic Lupus can develop the disease. When they get exposed to an environment that can trigger it. 

The triggers to Lupus Disease

Covering the basic types and symptoms of the disease, we have a general idea about What is Lupus Disease? Now, it is also essential to know the triggers that cause flares.

1. Sunlight

Fluorescent or halogen light triggers the Lupus flares. Staying for a long time in the sunshine can stimulate the flares to occur. Some people with Lupus are highly sensitive to high exposure to ultra-violet (UV) sun rays or even artificial lights.

2. Medication

Some drugs used to treat heart diseases and high blood pressure can trigger Lupus if used for a long period of time. Drug-induced Lupus can be reversed months after stopping the usage of such drugs.

3. Infections

Some bacterial, fungal, viral or opportunistic infections trigger Lupus to attack the body. They can either infect the skin, urinary tract or respiratory system. There is a high likelihood for people living with Lupus. To develop infection-related complications due to their weakened immune system.

Factors that increase the risk of Lupus

1. Gender

Lupus is more common in women as compared to men.

2. Race

Women of Asian-American, Hispanic and African-American origin are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with Lupus.

3. Age

Lupus commonly occurs in people between the age of 15 – 45 years. Though it is diagnosed in people of all ages.

While giving home care to a patient ensure they get enough rest. It is healthy for them to take enough rest and avoid stress. Do not assume the patient is not in pain even when they do not show it. Avoid asking the patient whether they are still in pain. Understand that Lupus is a silent disease.

Pain Management

Generally, it is quite challenging to manage pains caused by Lupus. This is due to the fact that it is hard to determine the source of pain. This challenge worsens when this pain is related to arthritis Lupus (pain in two or more peripheral joints). Non-arthritis pains can be managed by the use of therapeutic dosages.

Having adequate sleep can also help to manage pain. In this regard, antidepressant medications can be employe to manage both sleep disturbances and pains as well.

Patients are highly encouraged to manage stress and mood swings. They also need to exercise regularly to reduce the chances of fatigue. The tiredness that the Lupus patient goes through is so chronic. It is so tense, unlike the normal tiredness people go through.

Treatment for Lupus Disease

There’s no specific treatment for Lupus. It is a chronic, longtime disease with no cure. But treatment depends on the symptoms.

The major focus, in treating Lupus, is to intentionally reduce flares, reduced chances of body organs possible damages and also to reduce pains in the patient. It involves taking medicine for pain and swelling relieve, prevention of joint and internal organs damages. Other medicine helps to calm the immune system in a bid to prevent severe attacks on the body organs and tissues.

Infectious diseases need to be effectively treated to reduces the chances of triggering the reoccurrence of Lupus. The type of infections determines the type of treatment to be administered. For example, bacterial infections are administered antibiotics. Fungal infections are treated with antifungal medications. Some viral infections such as herpes can be rated by the use of antiviral medicines.

To reduce light flares, one can use tightly woven clothing to adequately cover their skin, use sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats, use bulbs with low light intensity and use tinted windows to reduce the amount of light streaming in their house and cars. Though there’s no cure for Lupus. The treatment to curb the symptoms helps to reduce the flares.

The inner pain in Lupus can’t be seen by others. It is only known by a Lupus Survivor. People can’t understand what is your daily struggle about? It is something what stays inside you & you look totally perfect from outside. You have to compromise daily with ” I am Fine” . It brings different challenges to fight each & every day. Because Lupus is a lifelong battle. – A Lupus Survivor