Lupus - Causes and Treatment
What Is Lupus?Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease where the body’s tissues are attacked by its own antibodies, causing soreness and inflammation.
Lupus causes a malfunctioning of the body’s immune system, damaging the tissues of the skin, heart, lungs, muscles, tendons and ligaments, brain and kidneys – this is why it is called a multi-system disease. The disease manifests itself in mild as well as severely disabling forms.
About 70 percent of lupus patients have systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) while the rest of the lupus cases have drug-induced lupus or discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE). The last form is characterized only by skin inflammation, while drug-induced lupus is a side-effect of many medications.
The general symptoms of lupus include skin rashes, joint and muscle pain and inflammation, hair and weight loss, fatigue, Raynaud’s Syndrome, lesions on the nose and cheeks, fever, sensitivity to sunlight, leg swelling and fits, oral ulcers, arthritis, breathing, neurological and renal disorders, anaemia, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, inflamed glands and loss of appetite.
What Causes Lupus?
Although lupus can affect anyone, young or old, male or female, it is quite common among women of childbearing age – these patients find that their symptoms are more severe just before menstruation, indicating that female hormones play an important part in this disease. Lupus is also more common among Africans, Asians, Latin Americans and Native Americans than Caucasians.
Lupus is caused by hereditary (genetic factors can increase the chances of a person having the disease) as well as environmental factors such as stress, certain medications, and UV light.
How To Treat Lupus
Unfortunately, lupus is not curable, but symptoms can be eased with the help of a physician. A rheumatologist will help with your treatment. When a lupus patient is suffering from symptoms that do not threaten his or her life, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and anti-malarial drugs such as plaquenil are used.
Such symptoms include skin rashes, joint and muscle pain and fatigue. When organ tissue is affected, high doses of medications like corticosteroids such as prednisone and immunosuppressive drugs like azathioprine, cyclosporine and mycophenolate mofetil are applied.
Other treatments for lupus include rest, exercise and therapy, skin care, and avoiding the sun. With constant awareness and monitoring, and proper treatment, it is possible for sufferers of lupus to lead ordinary lives, with some restrictions. It can be frustrating and depressing, though, and care should be taken to see that the patient does not give in to despair.