Lupus: causes, types and symptoms

What is lupus?

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation throughout the body. An autoimmune disease is a condition in which the immune system of your own body is responsible for the inflammation and degradation of your own cells. The inflammation seen in lupus can affect various organs and tissues of your body, including your:

  • joints

  • skin

  • heart

  • blood

  • lung

  • brain

  • kidneys

This disease can be serious and potentially deadly. It can cause permanent damage to the organs. However, many people with lupus experience a mild version. Currently, there is no known cure for lupus. See images of lupus symptoms and explore the areas of the body that are affected here.

Which are the lupus signs?

The symptoms of lupus vary according to the parts of your body affected. The symptoms may disappear suddenly. They can be permanent or sprout occasionally. Although there are no two cases of lupus, the most common symptoms and signs include:

  • a fever

  • fatigue

  • body pain

  • joint pain

  • rashes, including a butterfly rash on the face

  • skin lesions

  • short of breath

  • chronic dry eyes

  • Chest pain

  • Headaches

  • Confusion

  • memory loss

Some of the later symptoms of lupus include kidney problems due to an inflammation called nephritis. A person may experience high blood pressure, dark urine and blood in the urine. Check the first 10 early symptoms of lupus, including the rash.

What are the causes of lupus?

While doctors do not know exactly what causes lupus, they think it may be a combination of many underlying factors. These include:

  • Ambient: Doctors have identified possible triggers such as smoking, stress and exposure to toxins such as silica dust as possible causes of lupus.

  • Genetics: Having a family history of lupus can put a person at a slightly higher risk of experiencing the disease.

  • Hormones Some studies suggest that abnormal hormone levels, such as increased estrogen levels, may contribute to lupus.

  • Infections: Doctors are still studying the relationship between infections such as cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr or hepatitis C and the causes of lupus.

  • Medicines: The long-term use of certain medications, such as hydralazine (Apresoline), procainamide (Procanbid) and quinidine, has been linked to the cause of a form of lupus known as drug-induced lupus erythematosus.

It is also possible that a person has not experienced any of the possible known causes of lupus that are listed here and still have the condition.

What are the risk factors for lupus?

Examples of risk factors for lupus include:

  • to be a woman

  • Be between 15 and 44 years old

  • be a member of certain ethnic groups, such as African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, Native American, or Pacific Islander

  • Have a family history of lupus.

Having risk factors for lupus does not mean that you will have lupus, but that you have a higher risk compared to those that do not have risk factors.

Is lupus curable?

Currently, there is no cure for lupus. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, it is estimated that between 80 and 90 percent of people living with lupus can live a normal life with treatment and follow-up. However, the research regularly explores promising innovations in the treatment of lupus. These include some studies in animals that show an early promise that lupus is curable.

What are the recommendations for the treatment of lupus?

While there is no cure for lupus at this time, you can take medication to control the symptoms of lupus. Examples of medications for the treatment of lupus include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

  • antimalarial drugs

  • DHEA, a male hormone that can reduce some effects of lupus, such as hair loss.

  • corticosteroids

  • immunosuppressant drugs

A doctor will consider the symptoms of a person's lupus and its severity when recommending treatments for lupus. Doctors can also recommend changes in lifestyle, such as avoiding excessive exposure to ultraviolet sunlight. Some people take supplements in addition to their medications to reduce the symptoms of lupus. Examples of these supplements include flax seed, fish oil and vitamin D. Review a more complete list of medications for the treatment of lupus.

Is there a lupus diet?

Doctors have not established a definitive diet for lupus. However, there are some foods that people with lupus should generally avoid, mainly because of the medications they usually take. Examples include alcohol, which interacts negatively with many NSAIDs and can cause gastrointestinal bleeding.

Avoiding foods with high salt and cholesterol content is not only beneficial for a person's health, but also helps prevent swelling due to the use of corticosteroids.

Other healthy steps to reduce inflammation in the body for people with lupus include:

  • Fish with a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna or mackerel

  • Foods rich in calcium, such as low-fat dairy products.

  • Eat sources of whole carbohydrates.

  • eating a mix of colorful fruits and vegetables

However, people with lupus should avoid alfalfa. This is because the amino acid known as L-canavanine found in alfalfa sprouts and seeds can increase inflammation and cause lupus flares. Get information on more foods that are good to eat or that should be avoided with a lupus diet.

How do doctors diagnose lupus?

Doctors do not have a specific blood test or an imaging study to use to diagnose lupus. Instead, consider the signs and symptoms of a person and rule out other possible conditions that could be causing a person's symptoms.

In addition to making a detailed medical history and physical examination, doctors can perform the following tests to diagnose lupus:

  • Lab tests: These may include a complete blood count (CBC), a test that doctors use to determine the amount and type of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in the blood. Other tests that a doctor may request include a rate of erythrocyte sedimentation, protein levels, and antinuclear antibody test, which may indicate increased activity of the immune system.

  • Image tests: Chest x-rays and echocardiograms are two imaging studies that may indicate fluid accumulation in or around the heart. Positive results may reflect the causes of lupus.

  • Tissue biopsy Doctors can take a biopsy or a sample of cells from a rash-like area to determine if there are cells typical of a person with lupus.

A doctor can also perform a kidney biopsy to see if the kidneys look damaged due to lupus. Kidney damage related to lupus is called lupus nephritis.

What are the types of lupus?

Doctors usually categorize four types of lupus. These include:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus: The most common type of lupus, this condition can vary from mild to severe. The condition causes symptoms that can get worse over time and then get better.

  • Cutaneous lupus: This type of lupus is usually limited to your skin. It can cause rashes and permanent injuries with scars. The cutaneous form of lupus on the skin that causes scarring is called discoid lupus.

  • TELL HIM: Prolonged use of certain prescription medications can lead to medication-induced lupus. DILE is caused by the long-term use of certain prescription medications. It mimics the symptoms of systemic lupus, but in most cases, the condition does not affect the major organs.

  • Neonatal Lupus: This condition is extremely rare and affects babies whose mothers have lupus. Symptoms of this condition may include rash, low blood cell counts, and liver problems after birth. While some babies may have heart defects, most have symptoms that will disappear after several months.

Some types of lupus have more divisions according to a person's symptoms.

Is lupus contagious?

Lupus is not a contagious condition. Although some people with a family history of the condition are at higher risk of contracting it, they do not "get it" from another person. Learn more about the answer to "Is lupus contagious?"

What is the life expectancy with lupus?

Medical innovations and improvements in diagnostic tests have meant that people with lupus live longer than ever. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, it is estimated that between 80 and 90 percent of people diagnosed with lupus will live a normal life. Those who have severe lupus symptoms or who experience a serious outbreak are at a higher risk of complications than those with mild to moderate lupus. Review the possible complications that threaten life and more about life expectancy with lupus here.

What is the perspective of lupus?

While lupus can affect a person's health, it does not have to affect their quality of life. By focusing on your medications and your well-being, a person can live a life as healthy as possible. Many people have shared their lupus trips, and a list of the best lupus blogs is here. Sharing with others through support groups in person or online can help. Read this article to learn how a blogger navigates living with lupus.

Are there lupus prevention tips?

For most types of lupus, the condition can not be prevented. An exception is medications that are known to cause drug-induced lupus. However, it is important that a person discuss the risks and benefits, since not taking these medications could also have life-threatening effects.

In addition, a person may wish to take preventive measures that reduce the likelihood that they will suffer an outbreak of lupus. These include:

  • Avoiding direct sunlight: Excess exposure to the sun can cause a rash related to lupus. A person should always wear sunscreen when going outdoors and avoid direct sunlight when the sun's rays are higher, which is usually between 10 a.m. and the 4 p.m.

  • Practicing stress management techniques. These include meditation, yoga or massage that can help a person relieve stress whenever possible.

  • Practice infection prevention techniques. This includes washing hands frequently and avoiding being around people with colds and other illnesses.

  • Resting enough. Rest is vital to help heal a person's body.

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