Lupus is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the bodyâ€™s immune system attacks its own various tissues and organs. Lupus affects different systems of the body like the skin, lungs, blood cells, joints heart and nervous system. There are different types of lupus and symptoms and treatment vary according to the type, flare attacks and prognosis of lupus.
What is Lupus?
Normally, our body is designed in a way to fight off the infectious agents like virus and bacteria from attacking our body. One way to guard our body against infections is through antibodies but people who have lupus produces abnormal antibodies that attacks their own tissues instead of the infectious agents. This leads to damage and inflammation to different parts of the body like skin, lungs, heart, nervous system and brain.
Lupus is classified according to four types. They may have similarities but each type requires different treatment.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus affects any part of the body. Aside from the skin, internal organs like kidneys and lungs can be inflamed due to lupus. This is a serious form of lupus but the most common type which 90% of patients are women than men.
- Discoid lupus is a condition that only affects the skin. Patients developed butterfly rash on the face. Those people who have discoid lupus may tend to develop systemic lupus erythematosus later on.
- Drug induced lupus occurs after taking certain types of medication. It is a side effect when the medication is taken for too long. Unlike others, this type of lupus is only temporary and the symptoms often go away when the medications are stop.
- Neonatal lupus is a very rare medical condition that affects newborn. Newly born becomes affected with neonatal lupus because of genetic reasons, though the mother does not have lupus, but she may have certain antibodies that are associated with autoimmune disease which she can pass to her baby.
What are Lupus Causes?
Researchers have not yet found the exact cause of lupus. However, recent studies show that genetic and the environment plays major role in increasing the risk of lupus. It is observed that those people who have predisposition for lupus may likely to develop this autoimmune disease when they are faced with certain factors found in their environment.
What are Lupus Symptoms?
Lupus symptoms vary depending on which part of the body is affected and the severity of the pain may differ according to the prognosis of lupus. Here are some general lupus symptoms:
- Butterfly rash develop in the bridge of the nose. Rashes in the face tend to get worse when there is sun exposure.
- Weight loss
- Joint pain with sore and inflammation
- Hair loss
- Chest pain
- Mouth sores
- Dry eyes
- Scaly rashes
- Low platelet count
- Loss of memory
Lupus is a serious autoimmune disease, if is important that you consult your doctor immediately if you experience all or most of the symptoms above.
What are Lupus Treatments?
Lupus treatment depends on the sign and symptoms. Drug induced lupus can resolved on its own after stopping the medicine that had triggered the lupus. However, other types of lupus particularly the systemic lupus erythematosus is a progressive disease that require constant monitoring of your doctor. You will find that your doctor will administer medicines depending on the symptoms or flare that had appeared.
Some clinical trials are being done to better improve the lives of people with lupus. Some of promising clinical trials include:
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Research shows that synthetic form of DHEA hormone plays a significant breakthrough with people living with lupus. However, more studies are needed to make sure the safety of synthetic DHEA.
- Stem cell transplant is another promising treatment to lupus. Doctors are relying that through stem cell transplant, the immune system is rebuild. However, more clinical trials are needed to see the effects of stem cell transplant.
Clinical trials may need more time before they can really be part of lupus treatment. However some common lupus treatments are used to manage the flare attacks of lupus. Some of the lupus treatments are:
Corticosteroids are effective in reducing inflammation and in restoring body function when the lupus is in flare. However, corticosteroids are not acceptable for long-term therapy as there are serious side effects. Some of the side effects are bone destruction, diabetes, various infections and weight gain. Your doctor will monitor the dosage of corticosteroids; lower dosage can be given to cut the risk of serious side effects.
Lupus patients often feel lethargic and may feel fatigue even without doing strenuous. For these reason, getting adequate rest is important. Have a good sleep at night and may take couple of naps to feel rested during the day. Explain with your family members that rest is part of your ability to cope with the disease.
Exposure with sun can trigger flare attacks. It is recommended that patients wear clothes that will protect them from rays of the sun. If you are going out, wear clothes that will cover your legs and arms. For added protection, use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher to give you enough protection. Likewise, do not go out between 10 oâ€™clock in the morning up to 4 p.m.
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People with lupus may feel lethargic most of the time however, a regular exercise will boost the body resistance, promote blood circulation and strengthen the body as whole. You may try simple exercises after you get enough rest.
5. Avoid smoking
Smoking is bad for the health especially during flare attacks of lupus. Smoking will double the risk of cardiovascular disease and might worsen prognosis of lupus.
6. Fish oil
Research shows that fish oil is beneficial to patients with lupus. These supplements have omega-3 fatty acids that are good in the body. Though the research needs more study, ask your doctor if fish oil can be added to your treatment.
Flaxseed contains alpha-linolenic acid, a fatty acid that helps in decreasing inflammation. This is good for those patients who have lupus that affects their kidneys. However, more clinical studies are needed for flaxseed. Ask the opinion of your doctor before adding flaxseed to your diet.
These are the lupus treatments normally recommended by doctors but if your flare attacks worsen or other symptoms manifested, consult your doctor immediately.