Lupus, an autoimmune disease, causes the body’s immune system to mistake healthy tissue as a threat. The result of this internal attack can trigger several different symptoms. These health issues vary in severity, mimic other diseases, and can stop or start back up unexpectedly. In order for doctors to diagnosis this complex disease, multiple laboratory tests must be conducted. Due to this, Lupus can prevent doctors from properly diagnosing patients right away.
Am I at Risk?
There are more than 5 million people around the world that are affected by Lupus. Of this global estimation, 1.5 million Americans are currently diagnosed with the disease. Scientists have not found a solid answer as to why people get this illness. A few suggested factors include environment, hormones, genetics, smoking tobacco, and vitamin D deficiency.
Although the cause of Lupus is currently unknown, patients suffering from this illness do share some common traits. Women between the age of 15 and 35 are nine times more likely to has the autoimmune disease. In addition, patients that are of non-European descent have a higher risk of getting Lupus in their lifetime.
Types of Lupus
There are different categories of Lupus based on how the body reacts to the illness. The most common type is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, or SLE. This version of Lupus can affect most of the human body. Vital organs, such as the brain, lungs, and heart, as well as the kidneys, may be affected. Other areas include the central nervous system, blood vessels, joints, and the blood itself.
Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus, also known as Incomplete Lupus Erythematosus, only affects the skin. Symptoms typically include a rash on areas above the shoulders and along the arms. Although this type of Lupus typically only causes the immune system to attack the skin, about 5% of patients may progress to SLE.
Symptoms and Signs
The way that Lupus affects the body makes it difficult for doctors to instantly identify the disease. Many of the following symptoms can also be signs of other, more common illnesses. When patients are unresponsive to treatments or symptoms recur unpredictably, doctors may reevaluate their treatment plan until a proper diagnosis of Lupus can be confirmed.
- Joint Discomfort
- Muscle Pain
- Sores in Mouth or Nose
- Low Blood Count
- Red Rash On Cheeks or Nose
- Persistent Unexplained Fever
- Chest Pain When Breathing
- Protein in Urine
- Sensitivity to Sunlight
- Cognitive Issues
- Unusual Hair Loss
- Cold or Stress Alters the Color of Fingertips and/or Toes
- Symptoms Suddenly Go Away
Although there is currently no root cause or cure for Lupus detecting the disease early is paramount. Identifying the autoimmune disease quickly makes it possible for doctors to lessen the progression and severity of the illness. Individual treatment plans are created based on each patient’s symptoms and personal needs. Due to this, no two treatment plans are the same. Patients suffering from Lupus may be treated by rheumatologists, such as the friendly doctors here at Rheumatic Disease Clinic.