Shining a Light on Lupus: Everything You Need to Know on World Lupus Day
May 10, 2023
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects various parts of the body, including the skin, joints, and organs. It occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues and organs, leading to inflammation and damage. The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 million Americans, and at least 5 million people worldwide, have a form of lupus.
What is Lupus?
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system attacks healthy cells, tissues, and organs of the body. This causes inflammation and extensive tissue damage, leading to various physical and mental symptoms, including joint pain, fever, fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction. Lupus can affect any organ in the body, including the skin, heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys. There are four main types of Lupus, namely: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Cutaneous Lupus, Drug-Induced Lupus, and Neonatal Lupus. SLE is the most common form of Lupus, affecting about 70% of people diagnosed with the disease.
What are the Symptoms of Lupus?
Lupus has a wide range of symptoms that vary from person to person, making it difficult to diagnose. The most common symptoms include joint pain and swelling, fatigue, fever, skin rashes, hair loss, and photosensitivity. Other symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, seizures, headaches, confusion, and memory loss. Lupus symptoms can be mild or severe and can last for days, weeks, or months. Lupus symptoms tend to flare up periodically, with quiet periods in between.
How is Lupus Diagnosed?
Diagnosing Lupus is not an easy task, as it requires a thorough medical history, physical examination, and blood tests. Doctors usually use a combination of tests, including the Anti-Nuclear Antibody (ANA) test, C-Reactive Protein (CRP), and the Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) test. If the ANA test is positive, other tests are performed to confirm the diagnosis, including the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI), the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics criteria (SLICC), and the Lupus Activity Index (LAI). Once diagnosed, the doctor may refer the patient to a specialist, such as a rheumatologist, nephrologist, or dermatologist, for further management.
How is Lupus Treated?
Although there is no cure for Lupus, it can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes. Treatment aims to relieve symptoms, prevent complications, and improve the quality of life of a person with Lupus. Common medications used to treat Lupus include Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), Corticosteroids, Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs), and Biologics. In addition to medication, lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, stress management, and avoiding triggers can help manage Lupus symptoms and reduce flares.
How You Can Help Raise Awareness
World Lupus Day is an opportunity to raise awareness and educate people about Lupus to help reduce misdiagnosis, delayed diagnoses, and the negative impact on the quality of life of Lupus patients worldwide. One way to raise awareness is to participate in local and global Lupus events, such as walks, runs, and fundraising activities. You can also share information about Lupus on social media, write blog posts, or articles about the disease, and wear purple, the symbol color of Lupus. Even the smallest act, like caring for a person with Lupus, can help raise awareness.
Lupus is a complex and challenging autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. World Lupus Day is an opportunity to raise awareness and support efforts to find better treatments and, ultimately, a cure. By understanding lupus, its symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options, you can help support those who suffer from this debilitating disease. On World Lupus Day, let's join hands to raise awareness and educate people about Lupus to help improve the lives of those affected by this chronic disease.