Lupus


What is Lupus?

Systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE for short, is one of a number of illnesses known as the autoimmune diseases. Every individual is protected from "invasions" of viruses and bacteria by an immune systems' groups of cells in the blood and lymph system that circulate throughout the body and attack anything they recognize as "foreign." Without this defense system no one would live past infancy. In autoimmune disease, this system somehow becomes disordered, and an individual's immune system begins to attack his or her own tissues.


Lupus: a serious disease we know little about
What do you know about lupus? Based on the results of a survey from the Lupus Foundation of America, it is likely to be very little; around 72% of Americans aged 18-34 have either not heard of the disease or know nothing about it other than the name, despite this age group being at greatest risk for the condition.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system
produces auto-antibodies that attack healthy cells, and tissues,
including those of the skin, joints, heart lungs kidneys and brain.

There are different forms of lupus.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most common,
accounting for around 70% of all cases. In SLE, any part of the body can be affected.

Other forms of lupus include cutaneous lupus erythematosus,
which is limited to the skin, and
drug-induced lupus erythematosus, which can be triggered by
certain prescription drugs. Symptoms of drug-induced lupus are like those of SLE.

Lupus is not contagious. 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 grows rapidly and spread into surrounding tissues.
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 under, -active; in lupus, the immune system is overactive.

Diagnosing Lupus

To help doctors diagnose lupus, this list of 11 common criteria, or measures, was developed by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). ACR is a professional association of rheumatologists. Rheumatologists are the doctors who specialize in treating diseases of the joints and muscles, like lupus. If you have at least four of the criteria on the list, either at the present time or at some time in the past, there is a strong chance that you have lupus.

  • Malar rash – a rash over the cheeks and nose, often in the shape of a butterfly
  • Discoid rash – a rash that appears as red, raised, disk-shaped patches
  • Photosensitivity – a reaction to sun or light that causes a skin rash to appear or get worse
  • Oral ulcers – sores appearing in the mouth
  • Arthritis – joint pain and swelling of two or more joints in which the bones around the joints do not become destroyed
  • Serositis – inflammation of the lining around the lungs (pleuritis) or inflammation of the lining around the heart that causes chest pain which is worse with deep breathing (pericarditis)
  • Kidney disorder – persistent protein or cellular casts in the urine
  • Neurological disorder – seizures or psychosis
  • Blood disorder – anemia (low red blood cell count), leukopenia (low white blood cell count), lymphopenia (low level of specific white blood cells), or thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)
  • Immunologic disorder – anti-DNA or anti-Sm or positive antiphospholipid antibodies
  • Abnormal antinuclear antibody (ANA)

     

How is lupus treated?

There is no cure for lupus but treatments can help you feel better and improve your symptoms. Your treatment will depend on your symptoms and needs. The goals of treatment are to:

  • Prevent flares
  • Treat symptoms when they happen
  • Reduce organ damage and other problems

Your treatment might include medicines to:

  • Reduce swelling and pain
  • Calm your immune system to prevent it from attacking the organs and tissues in your body
  • Reduce or prevent damage to the joints
  • Reduce or prevent organ damage

 

What research is being done on lupus?

Research on lupus focuses on:

  • The genes that play a role in lupus and in the immune system
  • Ways to change the immune system in people with lupus
  • Different symptoms and effects of lupus in different racial and ethnic groups
  • Things in the environment that may cause lupus
  • The role of hormones in lupus
  • Birth control pills and hormone therapy use in women with lupus
  • Heart disease in people with lupus
  • The causes of nervous system damage in people with lupus
  • Treatments for lupus
  • Treatments for organ damage caused by lupus, including stem cell transplantation
  • Getting a better idea of how many Americans have lupus

 Learn more about current research studies on lupus

                                                

                               

RESOURCES

Office of Womens Health https://www.womenshealth.gov/
Lupus Corner http://lupuscorner.com/
Lupus Foundation of America  http://www.lupus.org/
Lupus Research Alliance   https://www.lupusresearch.org/
Lupus News Today   https://lupusnewstoday.com/