Every year on May 10th, World Lupus Day is observed globally to raise awareness of the chronic autoimmune disease, lupus. On this day, various national, international, and local groups, communities, patient advocates, and healthcare workers get together to raise awareness of the illness and motivate people to learn more about it and take the right action to combat it. Lupus is a condition not many understand as it is complex. Since the symptoms of lupus are similar to those that happen during other conditions, diagnosing it is still difficult. The most common symptom is a face rash that often has the appearance of butterfly wings unfolding and spreading across the cheeks.
To celebrate World Lupus Day 2023, let’s learn more about lupus.
What is Lupus?
Lupus is a type of autoimmune condition that happens when the body’s immune system attacks its organs and tissues by mistake. Lupus condition can often cause several symptoms across the body, and it requires ongoing management as there is no cure available for it currently. The inflammation caused by lupus can impact multiple bodily systems, such as the skin, joints, blood cells, kidneys, lungs, heart, and brain.
What are the various signs and symptoms of lupus?
Every case of lupus varies from one person to another. The symptoms of lupus may come suddenly or gradually. Similarly, the severity and duration of the symptoms of lupus may also differ. Many patients with lupus may experience mild lupus symptoms that occur in episodes, also referred to as flares, where the lupus signs and symptoms worsen for a period and then gradually improve or even vanish completely for some time. The major issue in the diagnosis of lupus arises due to its symptoms, as lupus symptoms may resemble those caused by other conditions.
Some of the signs and symptoms indicating lupus may include the following,
- Muscle pain
- Stiffness, pain, and swelling in the joints
- Lesions on the skin that may worsen when exposed to sunlight
- Sensitivity to sunlight
- Mouth sores
- Dry eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Stomach pain
- Blood clots
- Swelling in the glands
- Memory loss
- Kidney problems
- Heart issues
- Lung problems
- The appearance of a rash that resembles butterfly wings unfolding and spreading across the cheeks
- Fingers and toes turn purple or blue when stressed or exposed to cold (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
What causes lupus?
The exact causes of lupus remain unknown. Hence, more research is needed to know the illness better. However, several risk factors may be contributing to the development of lupus. Some of these risk factors of lupus that may increase a person’s risk of developing lupus may include the following,
- Changes in the hormone: Lupus is more commonly seen in women than men, which may be due to the production of oestrogen hormone in women. Lupus in women is most commonly diagnosed when they are in their reproductive years, usually between 15 to 44 years of age when the levels of oestrogen in the body are high.
- A family history: A family history of lupus may increase an individual’s risk of developing lupus.
- Environmental factors: Certain environmental factors, such as viral infections or exposure to chemicals, may act as lupus risk factors. Some of the environmental risk factors of lupus may include smoke, pollutants in the air, and exposure to sunlight.
Complications of Lupus
Lupus can give rise to various complications and affect various body parts. Some of the lupus complications include the following,
- Infections such as respiratory infections, herpes and shingles, urinary tract infections, etc
- Kidney problems
- Blood problems such as anaemia
- Lung issues
- Bone tissue death
- Heart problems
- Brain and central nervous system problems
- Complications during pregnancy
How is lupus diagnosed?
Lupus can be difficult to diagnose since its symptoms often match those of other illnesses. A healthcare professional would often ask the patient about their symptoms, conduct a physical exam, and look through their personal and family medical history before making a diagnosis.
Lupus cannot be diagnosed by just one test. Diagnosis of lupus is usually made using a combination of the results from the physical examination, signs and symptoms, and blood and urine testing.
Some of the tests for lupus diagnosis include the following,
- Biomarker test
- Blood tests like a complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, etc
- Urine tests
- Imaging tests such as echocardiogram and chest X-ray
How to treat lupus?
Before starting the treatment for lupus, there are various factors that the doctor will take into consideration. Some of these factors include the following,
- The patient’s age and medical history
- The overall health of the patient
- The severity of lupus
- The medications that the patient may be using
The lupus treatment plan is formulated based on each patient’s symptoms. A full discussion of the possible advantages and risks with your healthcare professional is required before deciding whether to treat the illness and choosing the best treatments.
The goal of lupus treatment is to lessen inflammation in order to safeguard organs from any damage and avoid flare-ups. The following medications are most frequently used to treat lupus,
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Antimalarial medications
Lupus is an autoimmune condition whose causes remain unknown. Since the lupus symptoms resemble the symptoms that may occur due to different conditions, it is important to make people aware of them this World Lupus Day 2023. Apart from the treatment given by the doctor, it is also essential to create awareness among the public about the various lifestyle changes that may help in leading a better life. Hence, this World Lupus Day 2023, inform people about the importance of healthy lifestyle changes for better lupus management and improved quality of life, such as eating a healthy diet, regular exercising, getting proper sleep, and quitting alcohol and smoking.
At Ayu Health Hospitals, we provide the best facilities and high-quality medical care to all our patients. Our state-of-the-art hospitals have cutting-edge technology and highly skilled medical professionals to provide accurate diagnoses and effective treatment for all kinds of diseases, including lupus. We also offer advanced treatment and care to patients with thalassemia to ensure they lead a healthy normal life. Reach out to us at 6366 100 800.
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About the Author
Dr. S. Goel
Dr. S. Goel is a renowned Internal Medicine Specialist currently practicing at Ayu Health, Bangalore. He is a Specialist in Internal Medicine, Diabetes HTN, Paediatric Care, and Family Medicine.