I have a good friend living overseas. She told me over the weekend that she found out that she has lupus. Between one and two million Americans have lupus. I know it is an autoimmune disease, but nothing other than that. I decided to do a little research and share it.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease. Our immune system protects our bodies from foreign invaders – viruses, bacteria, fungi, and more. Sometimes, the immune system cannot recognize friend from foe. When friends (our tissues and organs) are attacked in error it is called an autoimmune response. The most common lupus disease is called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Women comprise 90% of those with lupus. Most people experience symptoms of lupus in their teens, 20s, and 30s. Common symptoms are fatigue, fever, and hair loss. There are another dozen symptoms associated with lupus – swollen joints, skin rashes and sores, chest pain, and sensitivity to sunlight, and more. As the disease progresses, tissues, organs, and joints are affected.
Joint swelling and pain can be worse in the mornings. It can last for days or weeks. Almost half the people suffering from lupus have kidney, heart, and lung problems. Blood clots and anemia can be a problem also.
The causes of many autoimmune diseases are not known. Something happens that turns your immune systems 180 degrees – attacking your body rather than defending your body. Hydralazine and procainamide (two prescription drugs) are known to cause drug-induced lupus. Family history (genetics) is a factor in about 10% of people with lupus.
SLE is the primary lupus disease that people contract. Cutaneous lupus causes rashes and lesions. Mothers with SLE can pass lupus on to their children. People live with lupus for years and never know it. When multiple symptoms make life difficult, people seek medical help.
The American College of Rheumatology has a checklist of eleven criteria to assist doctors to diagnose lupus. The criteria include rashes, ulcers, lesions, joint swelling/pain, light sensitivity, inflammation, blood disorders, and more.
Our immune systems make antibodies to provide an active memory bank of the foreign invaders that have attacked us in the past. It gives us an advantage the next time the same or similar virus or bacteria enters our bodies. When the immune system goes awry, antinuclear antibodies are created. An antinuclear antibody (ANA) test is used to diagnose lupus.
The ANA test can also detect scleroderma, polymyositis, Sjögren’s syndrome, and other autoimmune diseases. A positive ANA test might mean that you do not have lupus but another autoimmune disease.
Lupus can affect different parts of the body – skin, kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, etc. Each may require a different treatment. Steroids are used for skin issues. Hydroxychloroquine has been used to treat inflammation. Cytoxan is a prescription medicine for lupus treatment in the brain and kidneys. There are several other drugs being used to treat lupus.
What about alternative options? Medical researchers tell us that no proof exists that natural nutrients help in treating lupus or other diseases. They also tell us that some supplements interact with prescription drugs. Talk to a professional about any alternative options you want to pursue.
I am an advocate of nutritional balance. That means getting every nutrient the body needs daily. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause problems, especially when they exist over time. Ensure your diet is balanced – usually covering at least thirty nutrients our bodies need every day.
Omega-3 fatty acid, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and antioxidants have proven to help boost help and provide energy. Acupuncture is an option to combat pain and fatigue. Exercise improves mood for many. Quality sleep is absolutely required.
Lupus can go into remission and symptoms disappear. Find the right healthy lifestyle that can keep the disease at bay. Doctors tell us that lupus does not affect the length of your life but can affect the quality of your life.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com