Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack healthy organs and tissues. Recently, Selena Gomez has been sharing more about her diagnosis of lupus. But just what is lupus and what do we know about it?
1. No two cases of lupus are the same.
Symptoms of lupus include fatigue, fever, joint pain, a butterfly-shaped facial rash, photosensitive skin lesions, Raynaud’s phenomenon, shortness of breath, chest pain, dry eyes, headaches, and confusion. However, each person with lupus experiences it differently.
2. There are three different types of lupus.
Though each case is different, there are three classifications that each can fall under: systemic, discoid, and drug-induced. Systemic lupus affects multiple parts of the body, discoid lupus mainly affects the skin, and drug-induced lupus is caused by a medication and can subside when the administration of the drug ceases.
3. Lupus can affect almost any part of your body.
Lupus has been known to affect the heart, lungs, eyes and mouth, blood, muscles and bones, skin, brain, kidneys, and intestines. Severe symptoms in any of these organs can cause detrimental effects in the body.
4. Certain risk factors make you more susceptible to lupus.
Sex, age, and race affect the risk of lupus. Women are more likely to be diagnosed, especially between the ages of 15-45. Lupus is more common in African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans.
5. Having lupus is a risk factor for other health complications.
People with lupus have an increased risk of infection, bone tissue death, pregnancy complications, and in rare but serious cases, cancer.
6. Lupus comes in flares.
Flares are when the symptoms of lupus periodically increase in intensity. Emotional or physical stress, infections, colds or viral illnesses, exhaustion, severe exposure to ultraviolet rays, or injury are the main causes of lupus flare-ups.
7. There is no singular test that can diagnose lupus.
Because of the fact that the symptoms of lupus overlap with other chronic illnesses, it is very difficult to diagnose lupus. A combination of blood and urine tests, symptoms presenting, and physical examination can indicate a diagnosis of lupus. Additionally, if your doctor believes that lupus is affecting your organs, X-rays, echocardiograms, and biopsies can determine the degree of inflammation and organ damage.
8. Lupus has no cure, but it can be managed.
There is no cure to rid the body of lupus, but there are methods that make symptoms more manageable. There are several medications on the market that can decrease the symptoms of lupus. Alternative medicines include acupuncture, fish oil, vitamin C or D supplements, and the hormone DHEA. In addition to medications and supplements, flare prevention methods include avoiding too much sun, exercising, not smoking, and a healthy diet.
9. Symptoms of lupus are not just physical.
Coping and living with lupus can cause mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, fatigue, low sex drive, and low self-esteem. Between pain and uncertainty of flares, lupus can affect your quality of life and overall wellness. It is important to learn about lupus, get support from your friends and family, and remember to take time for yourself.
If you or someone you know has lupus or thinks they have lupus, start tracking symptoms and make an appointment with a doctor. The earlier the diagnosis, the earlier treatment can be available. There is a lot that is unknown about lupus, but there is enough to provide hope for those who have to deal with the disease every day.