Lupus erythematosus is a disease of the immune system. In this disease, the patient’s immune system turns against itself, that is, instead of attacking foreign entities, it starts attacking and destroying the body’s own cells and tissues. Thus, it falls in the category of autoimmune disease. This autoimmune disease is not a common one like other autoimmune diseases. Study of family history, blood tests, and biopsy of sample from the affected area can help diagnose the disease but the causes for onset can rarely be concluded.
As the body’s own tissues are attacked, lupus causes damaging effects on the area under attack. It can affect and damage tissues and parts like the joints, kidneys, lungs, skin, blood vessels, and even the heart and brain.
The real cause of this autoimmune disease is not clear, but there are factors which might expose a person to having lupus. They include:
- Overexposure to sunlight might trigger the onset of this autoimmune disease. UV rays in sunlight cause gene mutations.
- Severe infections such as those caused by Epstein-Barr virus expose the patient to the risk of contracting lupus.
- Certain prescription drugs might result in the onset of this autoimmune disease. Lupus is thus stated as an adverse side effect of these drugs.
- Exposure to harsh chemicals from pollution or other sources.
Lupus is thus a very challenging and destructive disease for the body. Many precautions are advised and a restricted lifestyle is usually suggested to patients to have a normal life without complications from this autoimmune disease. Symptoms and treatment vary with the tissue or organ of the body being affected. Symptoms of this autoimmune disease vary with time as the disease progresses and thus the treatment. Common symptoms of the disease include:
- Skin rashes: Red rashes can be seen mostly on the face. The skin becomes sensitive to the sun. Hair loss is also a common symptom.
- Fatigue and fever without cause is another common symptom.
- Muscle and joint pain are experienced.
- The patient might present with ulcers and swollen glands.
Less common symptoms of this autoimmune disease include:
- Lack of concentration
None of the lupus symptoms are permanent. They come and go as flares and this also makes the situation worse for the patient. Treatment includes medication for the ongoing symptoms plus the disease. No specific foolproof treatment plan is available to get rid of the disease, but immunosuppressants and other medications providing symptomatic relief are suggested.
Things become worse when vital organs like kidneys, lungs, heart, or brain get affected due to lupus. The changing symptoms cause confusion for the patient as well as the doctor. The nature of the disease is very much progressive and this can cause the patient to go into depression with a sense of helplessness and fear of death. A counselor and family support is needed and can be of great help for the patient.
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