Lupus: When the Immune System Becomes the Enemy.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect many systems of the body. Although relatively little is known about this disease, it is estimated that around 1.5 million people in the United States are living with lupus.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks and damages its own tissues and organs. This disease can affect different parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, and brain. Although the exact cause of lupus is unknown, it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There are four main types of lupus, including:
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): the most common type of lupus and can affect many systems of the body.
Cutaneous lupus: limited to the skin and can cause butterfly-shaped rashes on the face and other skin symptoms.
Drug-induced lupus: can develop as a result of certain medications used to treat other diseases.
Neonatal lupus: a rare type of lupus that can affect babies born to mothers with lupus.
Lupus is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People with a family history of lupus are at higher risk of developing the disease, suggesting that genetics may play a role in its development. In addition, certain environmental factors, such as excessive sun exposure and smoking, can also increase the risk of developing lupus.
The symptoms of lupus can vary widely and can be mild or severe. Symptoms may come and go over time, making diagnosis difficult. Some of the most common symptoms of lupus include: extreme fatigue, fever, joint pain, skin rash, sensitivity to sunlight, headache, hair loss, mouth ulcers, breathing problems, chest pain, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, and depression. In the case of cutaneous lupus, the butterfly-shaped rash on the face is one of the most characteristic symptoms.
The diagnosis of lupus can be difficult, as symptoms can vary greatly from one person to another and can mimic the symptoms of other diseases. The doctor will perform a physical exam and may request laboratory tests, such as blood analysis, to detect specific antibodies that may be present in lupus. They may also request imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, to evaluate any damage to internal organs. It is important that the diagnosis is accurate, as the appropriate treatment depends on the severity and extent of the disease. The main goal of treatment is to control symptoms and prevent complications with medication, occupational therapy, physical therapy, avoiding excessive sun exposure, and quitting smoking, all of which help improve mobility and quality of life. In fact, medications are the main form of treatment. The most commonly used include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): to treat pain and associated inflammation.
Antimalarials: to treat inflammation and rash.
Immunosuppressants: to decrease the body's immune response and prevent damage to internal organs.
Corticosteroids: to reduce inflammation and prevent damage to internal organs.
It is crucial to have an appropriate care plan and accurate treatment with healthcare professionals specializing in lupus. Below are some of the most recognized in the country:
Dr. Joan T. Merrill - is the director of the Lupus Clinical Research Unit at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. She is nationally and internationally recognized as an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of lupus and has published numerous articles in medical journals on the topic.
Dr. Michelle Petri - Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and directs the Johns Hopkins Lupus Center. She is known for her expertise in treating lupus complications such as lupus nephritis and has contributed significantly to lupus research.
Dr. Bevra Hahn - Professor of Medicine at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) and director of the Lupus Program at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. She has been a leader in the field of lupus for over 30 years and has published numerous articles on the topic.
Dr. Ellen Ginzler - She is known for her expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of lupus and has been a leader in clinical lupus research for over 30 years.
Dr. Rosalind Ramsey-Goldman - Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and director of the Lupus Program at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. She is recognized for her expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of lupus in young women and has published numerous articles on the topic.
Finally, lupus is a complex and challenging disease that affects millions of people worldwide. However, it is not a death sentence and there is hope for those struggling with this illness. With early diagnosis, proper treatment, and a positive self-care approach, many people with lupus can lead a full and happy life. It is important to work with a healthcare team and follow their treatment plan, but it is also essential to care for your body and mind holistically. With proper support and a positive attitude, it is possible to live a fulfilling and satisfying life despite lupus.
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022b, October 21). Lupus. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lupus/symptoms-causes/syc-20365789
What is lupus?. Lupus Foundation of America. (n.d.-b). https://www.lupus.org/resources/what-is-lupus
Lupus: Symptoms, causes, types & treatments. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.-b). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4875-lupus
Dr. Joan T. Merrill - https://omrf.org/research-faculty/scientists/merrill-joan-t/
Dr. Michelle Petri - https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/profiles/details/michelle-petri
Dr. Bevra Hahn - https://www.uclahealth.org/providers/bevra-hahn
Dr. Ellen Ginzler - https://www.downstate.edu/faculty/department-of-medicine/rheumatology/ginzler.html
Dr. Rosalind Ramsey-Goldman - https://www.feinberg.northwestern.edu/faculty-profiles/az/profile.html?xid=12928
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