May is National Lupus Awareness month, and we have been and will continue to share facts about Lupus throughout the month, if you are wondering just what Lupus is, here is some great information we found on the Lupus Foundation of Americas website,
What is Lupus?
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the form of the disease that most people are referring to when they say “lupus.” The word “systemic” means the disease can affect many parts of the body. The symptoms of SLE may be mild or serious. Although SLE usually first affects people between the ages of 15 and 45 years, it can occur in childhood or later in life as well. This booklet focuses on SLE.
- Discoid lupus erythematosus is a chronic skin disorder in which a red, raised rash appears on the face, scalp, or elsewhere. The raised areas may become thick and scaly and may cause scarring. The rash may last for days or years and may recur. A small percentage of people with discoid lupus have or develop SLE later.
- Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus refers to skin lesions that appear on parts of the body exposed to sun. The lesions do not cause scarring.
- Drug-induced lupus is a form of lupus caused by medications. Many different drugs can cause drug-induced lupus. They include some antiseizure medications, high blood pressure medications, antibiotics and antifungals, thyroid medications, and oral contraceptive pills. Symptoms are similar to those of SLE (arthritis, rash, fever, and chest pain), and they typically go away completely when the drug is stopped. The kidneys and brain are rarely involved.
- Neonatal lupus is a rare disease that can occur in newborn babies of women with SLE, Sjögren’s syndrome, or no disease at all. Scientists suspect that neonatal lupus is caused in part by autoantibodies in the mother’s blood called anti-Ro (SSA) and anti-La (SSB). Autoantibodies (“auto” means self) are blood proteins that act against the body’s own parts. At birth, the babies have a skin rash, liver problems, and low blood counts. These symptoms gradually go away over several months. In rare instances, babies with neonatal lupus may have congenital heart block, a serious heart problem in which the formation of fibrous tissue in the baby’s heart interferes with the electrical impulses that affect heart rhythm. Neonatal lupus is rare, and most infants of mothers with SLE are entirely healthy. All women who are pregnant and known to have anti-Ro (SSA) or anti-La (SSB) antibodies should be monitored by echocardiograms (a test that monitors the heart and surrounding blood vessels) during the 16th and 30th weeks of pregnancy. It is important for women with SLE or other related autoimmune disorders to be under a doctor’s care during pregnancy. Doctors can now identify mothers at highest risk for complications, allowing for prompt treatment of the infant at or before birth. SLE can also flare during pregnancy, and prompt treatment can keep the mother healthier longer.
Explain how Lupus alters living?
What are some early detection signs?
Each person with lupus has slightly different symptoms that can range from mild to severe and may come and go over time. However, some of the most common symptoms of lupus include painful or swollen joints (arthritis), unexplained fever, and extreme fatigue. A characteristic red skin rash—the so-called butterfly or malar rash—may appear across the nose and cheeks. Rashes may also occur on the face and ears, upper arms, shoulders, chest, and hands and other areas exposed to the sun. Because many people with lupus are sensitive to sunlight (called photosensitivity), skin rashes often first develop or worsen after sun exposure.
Other symptoms of lupus include chest pain, hair loss, anemia (a decrease in red blood cells), mouth ulcers, and pale or purple fingers and toes from cold and stress. Some people also experience headaches, dizziness, depression, confusion, or seizures. New symptoms may continue to appear years after the initial diagnosis, and different symptoms can occur at different times. In some people with lupus, only one system of the body, such as the skin or joints, is affected. Other people experience symptoms in many parts of their body. Just how seriously a body system is affected varies from person to person.
What are the most common symptoms?
Some of the most common ones include extreme fatigue, painful or swollen joints (arthritis), unexplained fever, skin rashes, and kidney problems. Unfortunately, the warning signs of lupus can mimic the warning signs of other diseases. Common symptoms of lupus include persistent low-grade fever, extreme fatigue, and painful or swollen joints. However, no single test can be used to diagnose lupus, and it may take several months or years after symptoms first appear for doctors to make a definitive diagnosis. There are blood tests that a doctor can use to help diagnose lupus, but none of these tests are definitive.
What can people do to increase awareness?
Here’s what you can do:
- Repost LFA’s lupus facts on your personal online outlets (eg. Website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Post photos and share what you’re doing to raise awareness on LFA’s Facebook or Twitter. Get creative!
- Encourage your friends and family to become a fan of LFA on Facebook or follow us on Twitter so they can learn more about lupus.
- Sign the awareness pledge and commit to doing one thing to raise awareness.
- Become an e-Advocate and help educate members of Congress about issues that are important to people with lupus.
- Add your voice! Share your lupus story at www.lupusvoices.org.
- Share LFA’s celebrity videos featuring LFA’s Walk for Lupus Now Grand Marshal, Eduardo Xol from ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition; Julian Lennon, LFA Global Ambassador;Kaleena Harper from Diddy-Dirty Money; and Busy Philipps from ABC’s Cougar Town.
- Sign up to join LFA’s Walk for Lupus Now in your community.
- Make a donation to support LFA’s research, education and awareness programs.