Did you know that around 1.5 million Americans are affected by lupus and that most of them are women? Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects many people around the world. Diagnosing lupus may take many years since the symptoms of this autoimmune disease may occur over a prolonged period of time and may often be confused with other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Types of Lupus
There are many types of lupus. Depending on the organs or parts that are affected, the type of lupus is classified, namely:
• Lupus erthyematosus
• Discoid lupus (lupus that is characterized by discoid rash appearance of the skin in the neck, face, and scalp)
• Drug-induced systemic lupus (lupus caused due to drug administration)
• Neonatal lupus (lupus that occurs in babies)
• Subacute cutaneous lupus
Based on different types of lupus, many organs such as the following may be affected by this autoimmune disease: skin, heart, kidneys, nervous system, blood cells, and joints.
Symptoms of Lupus
The onset of an autoimmune disease such as lupus can usually be detected by its initial symptoms characterized by flares, which are short periods in which the symptoms may appear slowly or suddenly and be prominent after which the symptoms slowly mellow down.
The symptoms and the severity of lupus vary from person to person. The following are commonly occurring symptoms that occur for all types of lupus, the autoimmune disease:
• Stiffness in the joints, swelling, and weakness is one of the predominant symptoms of lupus that is experienced by people having any one of the types of lupus.
• Joint pain is experienced by most patients suffering from lupus.
• One of the peculiar symptoms of lupus is butterfly-shaped rash on the face that spreads across the cheeks and the bridge of the nose. According to a study performed by the American College of Rheumatology, this is one of the most characteristic symptoms of lupus that can help immediate diagnosis of this autoimmune disease. This symptom is noticed in 30 percent of the patients with lupus.
• Those with lupus may also acquire skin lesions that worsen with exposure to sunlight.
• The symptoms of lupus include Raynaud’s phenomenon in which the fingers or toes may turn blue or white in cold conditions or when going through stressful times.
• Rash on the skin also occurs as a symptom of this autoimmune disease.
• Lupus related sores inside the mouth and nose, including mouth ulcers are other symptoms widely noticed in lupus patients.
• Fatigue and fever are common symptoms noted in patients with lupus.
• Inflammation of the lining of heart and lungs can cause coughing and shortness of breath, which are other symptoms of this autoimmune disease.
• Dry eyes and chest pain may be experienced by patients with lupus.
• Headache, confusion, and memory loss are other symptoms of autoimmune diseases and that of lupus too. Lupus can also trigger other symptoms such as seizures and psychosis as it affects the central nervous system.
Lupus treatments begin with proper diagnosis. Since the symptoms of this autoimmune disease can often be confused with other diseases, a test such as the antinuclear antibody (ANA) test may also be performed to help lupus diagnosis and to decide on the proper treatment method.
Lupus treatments vary depending on age, other drugs being taken, severity of lupus, and the extent of spread of disease in lupus patients. In some people with lupus, treatments may not be necessary and the symptoms may lessen over a period of time. However, in others, lupus can cause severe damage to the kidneys and other parts necessitating proper lupus treatments to be adopted.
• Steroids are commonly used as skin creams in lupus treatments. Steroids can help make the rashes milder.
• Plaquenil (containing hydroxycholoquine) is a drug that can help prevent lupus flares and keep the skin and joint disease under check.
• Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) is used in lupus treatments over the more severe order affecting the kidneys and nervous system.
• Rheumatrex (methotrexate) may also be prescribed as a part of lupus treatment used to suppress the immune system.
• Benlysta (belimumab) is used in lupus treatment since it targets a specific cell type in the immune system that is thought to contribute to acquiring lupus. This has been effective in people with auto-antibody positive lupus.
• CellCept (mycophenolate mofetil) and Imuran (azathioprine) are used to prevent organ rejection after transplantation. However, they are also useful in lupus treatments since they weaken the immune response.
It is best advised that you always consult your doctor if you notice symptoms such as ongoing rash, fever, persistent aching in joints or fatigue. All types of lupus can be better handled with earlier diagnosis and providing autoimmune disease treatments.
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