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Lupus is a serious medical condition that affects the body’s immune system. Lupus causes the body’s immune system to fight against the body, causing the body to attack itself by destroying healthy tissue. This causes severe tissue damage and illness, and producing a variety of symptoms.
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Risks Factors for Lupus
An estimate 1.5 million people in the United States suffer from lupus. Although anyone can suffer from this disease, certain ethnicity's have a higher risk for developing the disease than others. Native American, African American and Asian people are more likely to have this condition than people of other ethnicities. Women are more likely than men to develop lupus, especially during the child-bearing years.
The exact cause of the disease continues to remain unknown. However, certain factors seem to trigger the condition, causing the body to attack the itself. Genetics, viruses and environmental factors appear to trigger lupus flares.
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Because the disease is more likely to occur in women, it is believed upus can be triggered by female hormones. Women are often affected by this condition during their child-bearing years because their hormone levels are at their highest during this point in life.
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Certain medications may increase a person's risk for developing Lupus as well. Medications, such as hydrolyzing and procainamide, have shown to produce symtpoms of lupus. The symptoms usually disappear after the use of the medicine is discontinued.
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Genetics have shown to play a role in triggering lupus because multiple family members can suffer from the condition. This causes the suspicion that lupus is hereditary. However, the nature of this link is unclear because only a small percentage of people with lupus have family members with the same condition.
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Symptoms of Lupus
There are multiple symptoms that can be produced from lupus. Symptoms of a lupus flare can differ widely, which can make the condition hard to properly diagnose. People with lupus often report symptoms such as unexplained fevers, extreme fatigue and unexplained hair loss.
Symptoms of a lupus flare can cause pain in the joints and chest. The joints can become swollen and produce symptoms similar to arthritis. Fluid can accumulate around the ankles causing them to swell. Seizures are often a symptom of the disease, as well as an increased sensitivity to light.
The skin can produce symptoms also. Odd skin rashes can appear on the body. The checks and nose can develop a butterfly shaped rash across them. Sores can occur in and around a person’s nose or mouth. The fingers and toes can turn pale or purple from the cold or stress.
Lupus can also cause multiple types of complications, which can be serious and even life-threatening.
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“Lupus Overview" February 1, 2007 http://lupus.webmd.com/arthritis-lupus
“Lupus" June 5, 2008 http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lupus/DS00115