Some basic info on Lupus

Many people do not understand what Lupus is or how it affects over 1 million Americans.  I’ve been officially diagnosed with Systemic Lupus since 2009, but had symptoms for years prior to that.  Lupus is one of the most difficult diseases to diagnose and is often referred to as the “Cruel Mystery.”  I thought I’d post some information that I found on the Lupus.org website to help further educate people and raise awareness of this potentially devastating disease.

What is lupus?

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years.

In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs (“foreign invaders,” like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues (“auto” means “self”) and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.

Lupus is also a disease of flares (the symptoms worsen and you feel ill) and remissions (the symptoms improve and you feel better).

These are some additional facts about lupus that you should know:

  • Lupus is not contagious, not even through sexual contact. You cannot “catch” lupus from someone or “give” lupus to someone.
  • Lupus is not like or related to cancer. Cancer is a condition of malignant, abnormal tissues that grow rapidly and spread into surrounding tissues. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, as described above.
  • Lupus is not like or related to HIV (Human Immune Deficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). In HIV or AIDS the immune system is underactive; in lupus, the immune system is overactive.
  • Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor. With good medical care, most people with lupus can lead a full life.
  • Our research estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus. The actual number may be higher; however, there have been no large-scale studies to show the actual number of people in the U.S. living with lupus.
  • More than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually across the country.
  • It is believed that 5 million people throughout the world have a form of lupus.
  • Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age (15-44). However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too.
  • Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians.
  • People of all races and ethnic groups can develop lupus.

What is the prognosis for a person with lupus?

The idea that lupus is generally a fatal disease is incorrect. In fact, the prognosis of lupus is better today than ever before.

It is true that medical science has not yet developed a method for curing lupus, and some people do die from the disease. However, people with non-organ threatening aspects of lupus can look forward to a normal lifespan if they:

  • Follow the instructions of their physician
  • Take their medication(s) as prescribed
  • Know when to seek help for unexpected side effects of a medication or a new manifestation of their lupus.

Although some people with lupus have severe recurrent attacks and are frequently hospitalized, most people with lupus rarely require hospitalization especially those who maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow their physician’s instructions.

New research brings unexpected findings each year. The progress made in treatment and diagnosis during the last decade has been greater than that made over the past 100 years. It is therefore a sensible idea to maintain control of a disease that tomorrow may be curable.

Medically reviewed on July 12, 2013

*Information reprinted from www.lupus.org

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mabelrae80
    Feb 27, 2014 @ 12:32:09

    Sure early detection is not a cure by any stretch, but it sure can save your life
    http://cancerstricken.com/can-breast-cancer-be-cured

    Reply

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