What is Lupus?
Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). In Lupus, your autoimmune system attacks itself in belief that something is wrong. This is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs.
The signs and symptoms tend to last longer than four weeks and often for many years.
Your own body fighting itself. Imagine the white blood cells, which are meant to fight off infection, believing that your own cells and organs are infections themselves. If you imagine this, you can understand a piece of what it is like to HAVE LUPUS!
Lupus IS NOT hereditary in that the disease itself is passed from parent to child. It is hereditary in that a predisposition to developing the disease is passed down from parent to child. It is important to recognize the difference. Not everyone with a parent who has lupus will develop the disease itself, and children can develop the disease even if neither of their parents has Lupus.
Currently, there is no cure for Lupus. But, Lupus can be effectively treated with drugs. Most people with the disease live active, healthy lives.
Lupus is characterized by periods of illness, or flares, and periods of feeling better or remissions.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease which the body’s immune system cannot recognize its own tissue from disease causing agents and so attacks itself.
The system loses its ability to tell the difference between self and nonself antigens, making antibodies which fight against itself, called auto-antibodies. These auto-antibodies react with self antigens to form antigen-antibody complexes that aren’t cleared away efficiently, causing them to build up which may cause many of the signs and symptoms of Lupus.
A complicated series of reactions help protect the body by fighting nonself antigens. When the antigens are controlled or destroyed, immune response activity usually returns to “pre-attack” levels, while
self antigens are ignored or tolerated.
Weight Loss or Gain
Joint paint, stiffness and swelling
Butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the bridge of the nose and covers the cheeks
Shortness of Breath
Hair Loss (Alopecia)
Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure
Fingers and toes can turn color when exposed to cold temperatures or during stressful periods.
Known as SLE for short, this form of lupus can affect nearly every part of the body, including the skin, joints, lungs, heart, kidneys, brain, and blood. Although SLE symptoms sometimes disappear, the disease doesn’t go away. And because there is no cure, doctors and people living with lupus need to work closely together to manage SLE.
* This form can affect nearly every part of the body.
* Symptoms can disappear, but the disease remains.
2. DISCOID LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS:
Also called cutaneous lupus, discoid lupus affects only the skin. Its main symptoms include crusty, scaling sores on the face, head, and other areas, which can leave lasting scars. Cigarette smoking and exposure to sunlight can make the condition worse. Some people with discoid lupus also can develop SLE.
* This forms affects only the skin.
* Symptoms include: crusty, scaling sores on the face, head, and other areas; exposure to sunlight and cigarette smoking can worsen the condition.
3. DRUG-INDUCED LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS:
Certain prescription medications can cause drug-induced lupus. This can appear similar to SLE; however, it usually goes away once the medication is stopped. The most common medications that may cause drug-induced lupus are procainamide and quinidine, which are used to treat heart arrhythmias, and hydralazine, which is used to treat high blood pressure.
* Common Medications:
Procainamide and Quinidine – used in treating heart arrhythmias
Hydralazine – used in treating high blood pressure
4. NEONATAL LUPUS:
It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes a mother may pass lupus antibodies to her unborn baby. Following the birth, the baby may develop a rash and/or other symptoms that can last for several months and then disappear. In rare instances, babies with neonatal lupus also can have serious heart rhythm problems.