Take the Lupus test
”Lupus usually affects skin and joints, but it may involve organs such as the heart and kidney. If this happens then the effects can be severe”.
- Have you ever had painful/swollen joints for >3 months?
- Do your fingers/toes become pale, numb or uncomfortable in the cold?
- Have you ever had any sores in your mouth for >2 weeks?
- Have you ever been told that you have a low blood count – anemia, low white cell count or a low platelet count?
- Have you ever had a redness or color change on your face in the shape of a butterfly?
- Have you ever had an unexplained fever for more than a few days?
- Have you ever had sensitivity to the sun where your skin “breaks out” after being in the sun?
- Have you ever had chest pain with breathing for more than a few days (pleurisy)?
- Have you ever been told you have protein in your urine?
- Have you experienced extreme fatigue/exhaustion for days or even weeks at a time even after 6–8 hours of restful sleep?
- Have you ever had unexplained seizure/convulsion?
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) or Lupus is an autoimmune disease.
Lupus is a disease in which our body’s immune system attacks our own tissues and organs. Lupus can induce inflammation in various parts of our body such as joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs.
Lupus or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) can be difficult to diagnose since its symptoms and signs are often similar to those of other illnesses. The most distinguishing symptom of lupus is a facial rash that looks like butterfly wings unfolding over both cheeks. This rash appears in many but not all cases of lupus.
The exact cause of lupus is not clear. Many studies suggest that genetics plays important role in lupus. There are multiple treatment options are available.
Most people with lupus/SLE have a mild form of the disease marked by flares, which occur when signs and symptoms worsen for a while before improving or perhaps disappearing completely.
Your lupus signs and symptoms will vary depending on which body systems are affected by the condition. The following are the most common signs and symptoms:
- Swelling, stiffness, and discomfort in the joints
- Skin lesions that form or worsen with sun exposure include a butterfly-shaped rash on the face that encompasses the cheekbones and bridge of the nose or rashes elsewhere on the body.
- When exposed to cold or during stressful times, the fingers and toes turn white or blue.
- Breathing problems
- Pain in the chest
- Dry eyes
- Headaches, fuzziness, and memory loss
Lupus/SLE is an autoimmune illness in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue in the body. Lupus is most likely caused by a mix of your genetics and your environment.
It indicates that persons who have a hereditary susceptibility to lupus may get the disease if they come into contact with a trigger in the environment. However, in the vast majority of instances, the cause of lupus is unknown.
The following are some possible triggers:
- Sunlight: In persons with lupus, exposure to the sun might cause skin lesions or induce an internal response.
- Infections: Infections can trigger lupus or trigger relapse in some persons.
- Medications: Certain blood pressure drugs, anti-seizure medications, and antibiotics can also cause lupus. When people with drug-induced lupus cease taking medicine, their symptoms normally improve. Symptoms can sometimes last long after the medication is stopped.
The following factors may raise your lupus risk:
- Gender: lupus is more common in women.
- Age: Lupus affects people of all ages. However, it is most commonly diagnosed between 15 and 45.
- Race: African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans are more likely to develop lupus.
Lupus-related inflammation can affect numerous parts of your body, including:
- Kidneys: Lupus can damage the kidneys severely, and renal failure is one of the most common causes of death among lupus patients.
- The central nervous system and the brain: You may endure headaches, dizziness, behavioural changes, vision issues, and even strokes or seizures if your brain is impacted by lupus. Many persons with lupus have memory problems and may find it difficult to articulate themselves.
- Blood vessels and blood: Lupus can cause blood issues, such as anaemia (low red blood cell count) and an increased risk of bleeding and blood clotting. It can also cause inflammation of the blood vessels.
- Lungs: Some patients with lupus may develop an inflammation of the lining of your chest cavity, which makes breathing difficult.
- Heart: Lupus can irritate your heart muscle, arteries, or heart membrane, causing inflammation. In addition, the risk of cardiovascular illness and heart attacks rises dramatically.
Other types of complications
Having lupus also increases your risk of:
- Infection: People with lupus are more susceptible to infection.
- Cancer: It appears that having lupus increases your risk of cancer, but the danger is minimal.
- Bone tissue death: When the blood flow to a bone decreases, microscopic breaches in the bone form, eventually leading to the bone’s collapse.
- Pregnancy complications: Miscarriage can be a complication of lupus in women. During pregnancy, lupus raises the risk of high blood pressure and preterm birth. Doctors frequently advise deferring conception until your disease has been under control for at least six months to lessen the risk of severe consequences.
With recent advances and increased awareness, it is possible to diagnose lupus at an early stage. But lupus cannot be diagnosed with a single test. The diagnosis is made by a rheumatologist using a combination of blood and urine testing, signs and symptoms, and physical examination findings.
Your signs and symptoms determine your treatment of lupus. With recent advances in the management of lupus, there are a variety of treatments options available. A rheumatologist is an expert in this disease and should be consulted early in the course of the illness. Therapies used by the rheumatologist can slow and in many cases stop the disease progression. Simple painkillers will not prevent joint damage. Rheumatologists prescribe disease-modifying medications to help with symptoms and stop the progression of the disease. Newer therapies (Biologics) used by the rheumatologist can slow and, in many cases, stop the disease progression.
Lifestyle and home remedies
If you have lupus, take steps to care for your body. Simple steps can help you avoid lupus flares and cope better with the signs and symptoms you experience if they do arise. Try to:
- See your doctor regularly: Regular check-ups, rather than only visiting your doctor when your symptoms increase, can help your doctor prevent flares and address common health problems like stress, nutrition, and exercise, all of which can help prevent lupus complications.
- Be sun-aware: Wear protective clothing, such as a hat, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants, and use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 50 every time you go outside because ultraviolet radiation can create a flare.
- Get some exercise regularly: Exercise can help you maintain healthy bones, lower your risk of heart attack, and improve your overall health.
- Please don’t smoke: Smoking raises your risk of heart disease and can exacerbate the effects of lupus on the heart and blood vessels.
- Maintain a balanced diet: Fruits, veggies, and whole grains are all important components of a balanced diet. You may have dietary limits due to various factors, including high blood pressure, kidney disease, or gastrointestinal issues.
Dr. Pravin Patil has obtained training and vast experience in treating patients with lupus at University College London hospital’s multidisciplinary lupus clinic.