LUPUS – An outcome of a misfiring immune system

A more frequent occurrence in African-American and Hispanic women

Butterfly Rash in Lupus

The immune system of our body is designed to shield it from the perilous objects foreign to us. However, when misfortune strikes, the immune system can begin to malfunction and identifies the healthy tissues of our body as alien elements to our body. Hence, they are readily attacked by the antibodies – the immunity police in our system and gives rise to a number of symptoms which are together specified as lupus erythematosus or simply lupus. Lupus does not spare a single organ of the body, be it kidneys, heart, lungs, blood cells and vessels or our joints and skin. It typically appears in women between 20 and 40 years of age; the ratio of female to male patients is 10:1. Lupus is more frequent in African-American and Hispanic women than in Caucasians, although it is not known why this is so.

HOW MANY TYPES OF LUPUS ARE THERE?

Lupus Rash Sites

Lupus can prevail in our body as a systemic disease or may be expressed in our cutaneous tissues. The cutaneous form of lupus can turn out to be acute, chronic or something in between. Another type of lupus called discoid lupus erythematosus, does not torment our internal organs but heavily affects the skin, covering the scalp, neck and face of its patients with distinctive rashes. Some lupus can also be triggered by drugs used to cure heart ailments and hypertension. But the good news is that the patients can get rid of this drug-induced lupus by doing away with the drugs. The most fatal lupus reported to date is systemic lupus erythematosus which might affect a number of organs and cause them to malfunction. Apart from the above mentioned types; Chilblain lupus, tumid lupus and verrucous lupus can also disturb the well-being of the body.

WHY IS LUPUS CAUSED?

The actual cause of this autoimmune disorder is yet to be traced, but researchers and doctors believe that an inborn genetic tendency to get prone to this disease due to environmental stimulation might be a prospective cause of lupus. Smoking, photosensitivity to UV light and high levels of mental stress carries the seed of lupus. However, viral infections and detrimental effects of certain medications can also trigger it.

WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS OF LUPUS?

When lupus strikes, it brings with it a number of indications which warns you of its approaching steps in advance. The symptoms might be mild and disappear after some time or it might flare up suddenly and go downhill with time. The most common symptom of lupus is the appearance of butterfly-shaped rash extending throughout the nose and cheeks, accompanied by swelling of joints, hands and feet. Tendency to gain or lose weight, hair loss, degrading cognitive functions, high fever, anaemia and abnormal tiredness are warning signs of the onset of lupus. So, if you are troubled by a collection of these symptoms, see your doctor for proper diagnosis.

IS THERE ANY PERMANENT CURE TO LUPUS?

The answer unfortunately is no. Doctors prescribe medications like NSAIDS, anti-malarial and immunosuppressive drugs or corticosteroids to deal with its symptoms. But they are not free from adverse effects which include muscle fatigue, weight gain, mood swings, hypertension and diabetes or might turn out to be fatal by increasing the risk of cancer, infertility and liver damage. Adapting a healthy way of living helps its victims to combat with lupus to a large extent. If you smoke, consider giving up the habit, adopt a balanced diet and exercise regularly to keep your muscles active and drive away osteoporosis. Apply sunscreen to save the skin from harmful UV rays and undergo psychological therapy to deal with cognitive disorders.

A little awareness, a little more care towards ourselves as well as love and support of your loved ones can help us battle with Lupus.   Liya Das. (TCC)

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