Lupus is a complicated disease affecting about 5 million people worldwide. However, a lot of people don’t understand how it impacts others and don’t even know if they have it themselves.
To increase awareness, here are 7 things you need to know.
- Lupus Is an Autoimmune, Rheumatic Disease
In lupus, the immune system of the body attacks its own cells and tissues. While other organs of the body can be affected, the joints, skin, kidneys, lungs, eyes, heart, nervous system, are the most common areas.
- 90% of Patients Are Women
Lupus affects roughly 10 times as many women as men. Most often, lupus develops in people between 15 to 44 years old. Although lupus is most prevalent among women, it also affects men and children, as well as people of all ages.
- It is difficult to diagnose
Lupus is considered an unpredictable disease, with no two cases exactly the same. There are several symptoms of lupus which mimic other rheumatic diseases (e.g., severe fatigue), thus making the diagnostic process difficult.
- Lupus symptoms can differ greatly from person to person.
Common lupus symptoms include:
- Constant fatigue
- Achy joints
- A butterfly-shaped rash around the cheeks and nose
- Hair loss
- Blood clots
- Sensitivity to light
- Chest pain when breathing
- Mouth sores
- Swelling in the extremities or around the eyes
- Lupus is a disease of flares and remissions.
Lupus flare-ups can be mild or severe. At least 75% of people with lupus have arthritis and skin rashes. Half have kidney problems. Lupus patients are also more vulnerable to infection than most people.
- Black people have an Increased Risk
Lupus is two to three times more prevalent among people of colour, including African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans.
- The Majority of Patients Lead Normal Lives
With careful monitoring of lupus and treatment adjustments as needed, most lupus patients lead normal lives. There may be some limitations and the disease may impose restrictions at times but with good disease management, quality of life can be sustained.
The worst adversary comes from within, when the patient loses hope, loses will, and gives in to frustration and depression.
If you’ve noticed the symptoms listed earlier in yourself or someone else, please see a doctor for further assessment. He/she may then refer you to a specialist (rheumatologist). Evaluation by a rheumatologist is important so that a patient can develop a treatment plan.
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