What is Lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body has developed antibodies that attack health tissues. Inflammation occurs as the result of tissue destruction. Tissue destruction and inflammation can occur anywhere in the body, they affect the skin, kidneys and joints most often.
Systemic lupus erythematosus affects any part of the body, and is usually what people are referring to when they talk about lupus. Discoid lupus affects the skin, causing a rash to form on the face, scalp and neck. Drug-induced lupus occurs when you take specific prescription drugs. The symptoms of this type of lupus usually go away after you stop taking the drug.
Researchers do not know what causes lupus. Genetics may play a role in this disorder, but environmental factors also influence the development of autoimmune disorders. While the cause of lupus is unknown, there are risk factors that increase the chance of developing the disorder. These risk factors include chemical exposure, infection with the Epstein-Barr virus, and use of certain prescription medications. Lupus affects women more often than it affects men, and it affects Hispanics, blacks, and Asians more often than Caucasians.
Lupus Early Symptoms
Lupus early symptoms include fatigue, pain in the joints, flu-like symptoms, swollen glands, and fever. Other lupus symptoms include mouth sores, hair loss, chest pain, dry eyes, shortness of breath, anxiety, easy bruising, memory loss, and depression.
Lupus is often referred to as the “great imitator” because the signs and symptoms of the disorder mimic those of other diseases. The American College of Rheumatology published diagnostic criteria for lupus to help doctors and other medical professionals diagnose lupus more accurately. In order for your doctor to make a lupus diagnosis, you must have at least four out of the 11 criteria. The criteria include scaly rash, sun-related rash that appears after sunlight exposure, face rash that is butterfly-shaped, pain and swelling in two or more joints, kidney disease, swelling of the linings of the heart and lungs, neurological disorders, mouth sores, positive ANA blood test, low blood counts, and other positive blood tests associated with autoimmune diseases.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids treat the pain and inflammation associated with lupus. Anti-malaria drugs also treat the symptoms of lupus. Immune suppressants stop the immune system from attacking healthy tissue, but increase the risk for infections.