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Definition of Lupus
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease, a class of diseases that cause abnormal functioning of the immune system.The Lupus Foundatin of America estimates that 1.5 million people in the United States and over 5 million worldwide suffer from the disease.
Normally, the immune system attacks and kills foreign cells in the body like viruses, bacteria and germs. Autoimmune diseases cause the immune system to malfunction and produce a multitude of antibodies that attack the body's own healthy cells. The resulting damage may cause extreme pain, inflammation and damage to various parts of the body including skin, the joints and various internal organs.
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The Effects of Lupus on the Nervous System
Because of the excessive production of antibodies with lupus, nerve tissues may become damaged. When this happens, a number of symptoms may occur.
To properly function, the nervous system requires uninterrupted blood flow to supply its tissues with nutrients and oxygen. With lupus, this supply of blood is often interrupted causing injuries to the tissues.
One of the serious effects of lupus to the nervous system is the inflammation of blood vessels in the brain. This is more appropriately termed as central nervous system vasculitis or CNS vasculitis. When CNS vasculitis happens, one of its main symptoms is seizures or blackouts.
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Lupus Related Blackouts
Although blackouts sometimes occur in people with lupus, they may not necessarily be a sign of the disease. The loss of consciousness may be due to an epileptic seizure. Most epileptic patients do not have lupus but some individuals with lupus may experience seizures.
This type of epileptic seizure experienced by lupus sufferers is called petit mal seizure. This petit mal seizure is characterized by either fainting or staring for an extended period while in a sitting position without realizing what is happening in his or her environment. The blackouts or seizures can progress to a stupor or even coma if not treated immediately.
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Doctors advise that anyone with lupus who suffers from a blackout should seek immediate medical attention to diagnose the underlyling problem. Blackouts are not a common symptom of Lups, and the majority of lupus sufferers do not experience blackouts and these remain as special cases.
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If you experience lupus related blackouts, immediate consultation with your neurologist is recommended. With consultation, the cause of seizure can be properly evaluated and prevention can be implemented. Doctors normally prescribe anti-convulsant medications to prevent blackouts related to lupus. These medications may control abnormal electrical discharges in the brain and help prevent sudden fainting.
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Experiencing lupus related blackouts can be a complicated situation because it involves the nervous system. Fortunately, the problem is completely reversible with the right treatment and prevention. Seek the medical help of your neurologist and rheumatologist for proper care and monitoring of the situation.