Lupus - Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factor and Treatments

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Lupus is an autoimmune disease that occurs when your own tissues and organs are attacked by your body’s immune system. The swelling caused by it can affect many parts of the body including your joints, heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, blood cells, and skin. It is difficult to diagnose because of the fact that the signs and symptoms are shown by a body affected by lupus usually match with other diseases. The only distinctive sign of lupus is a rash on the face that looks like the wings of a butterfly on both cheeks, this symptom occurs in many cases but not in all cases.

Some people have a tendency of developing lupus from their birth, which can be further carried by certain drugs, infections, or even sunlight. Until now, there is no permanent cure of lupus but treatment is available for controlling its symptoms.

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Symptoms of Lupus

In the case of lupus, it is not necessary that the patients of lupus will show the same symptoms, not even two cases are exactly the same. The symptoms of lupus sometimes show up suddenly and sometimes they take time to develop and show. They can range from mild to severe and can be temporary or chronic. Most of the people experience phases of disease(flares) in which first signs and symptoms get really bad for some time and then improve or even become completely invisible for a while. The symptoms of lupus depend on which system and part of the body is affected by it. Some common signs are: 

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Stiffness, swelling, and pain in joints
  • Butterfly shaped rash on the face or rashes anywhere on the body
  • Skin lesions that get worse if exposed to the sun.
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Chest Pain
  • Headaches and memory loss
  • Dryness of eyes

Causes of Lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease. It is possible that both genetic and environmental factors play a role behind causing it. The people who have an inherited genetic disorder can develop the disease if they come in contact with something that triggers lupus. Some of these identified triggers:

  1. Sunlight: It can sometimes trigger a body’s response to the sun in the form of lesions on the skin.
  2. Infections: It can also initiate lupus.
  3. Medications: Some medicines can also initiate lupus-like some blood pressure medicines, antibiotics, and anti-seizure medicines. 

Risk Factors of Lupus

Some factors that can increase the risk of lupus are:

  1. Gender: It is more common in women in comparison to men.
  2. Age: Even though lupus affects people of all age groups, it is most commonly diagnosed in the age groups of 15 to 45.
  3. Race: It is mostly found in Asian-Americans, African-Americans, and Hispanics.

Complications due to Lupus

  • Kidneys: It can cause severe damage to kidneys and failure of the kidney is the leading cause of death among people who suffer from lupus.
  • Brain and Nervous System: A brain affected by lupus can experience dizziness, headaches, problems related to vision, behavioral problems, and strokes, and memory issues.
  • Blood: Blood problems are also caused by lupus. It can also lead to anemia, blood clotting, and an increase in the risk of bleeding. Vasculitis is also a complication of lupus.
  • Lungs: Lupus increases the chances of having inflammation in the chest cavity lining due to which breathing becomes painful. Bleeding inside the lungs and pneumonia can also appear.
  • Heart: It can cause inflammation of the heart muscles, arteries, or pericarditis. The danger of having a heart attack also increases in people suffering from lupus.

Treatment for Lupus

Several types of medicines are used to treat lupus. Your doctor will prescribe medicine on the basis of your symptoms which can change accordingly. Some medicines for treating lupus are:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Ibuprofen and naproxen help in reducing mild pain and swelling in muscles and joints.
  • Corticosteroids: They help in the reduction of swelling and pain and help in calming the immune system. They come in different forms like pills, shot, creams. The symptoms respond to these steroids very quickly. 
  • Antimalarial Drug: Medicines used for treating malaria also helps in the treatment of joint pain, skin rashes, lung inflammation, and fatigue. Commonly used medicines are Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine Phosphate.

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Conclusion

Lupus contains in itself a lot of diseases of various systems of the body including lungs, skin, brain, heart, joints, etc. Sometimes its symptoms show up quickly and sometimes it takes time to develop. It cannot be cured completely but can be reduced by using medications.