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May is Lupus Awareness month, a time set aside to educate communities on what lupus is and how it affects the lives of individuals daily. Lupus is a chronic (long-term) autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation throughout the body. Lupus causes the body’s immunes system to become hyperactive and attacks healthy tissue. The immune system is typically responsible for fighting infection. Inflammation typically occurs when the immune system is fighting infection. Symptoms include inflammation, swelling, and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, blood, heart, and lungs. Here are 7 facts you should know about Lupus.
1. There are an estimated 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. with lupus.
2. 9 out of 10 people with lupus are women. Lupus can develop in anyone, but research shows that women 15-44 are at higher risk for developing the disease. Other at-risk groups include African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, and Pacific Islander.
3. Lupus is not contagious. There is no evidence as to what causes lupus, but it is not contagious. Lupus may develop in response to hormones like estrogen and environmental triggers.
4. Lupus has been known to run in families. Individuals with immediate family members who have lupus are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
5. There are at least 5 known types of lupus:
- *-Systemic lupus erythematosus- The most common form of lupus.
- Cutaneous/Discoid lupus erythematosus- This lupus is confined to the skin and causes rashes and lesions.
- Drug-induced lupus erythematosus- This is a lupus-like disease that develops from the usage of certain drugs.
- Neonatal lupus- This is a rare condition that affects the infants of mothers with lupus. Neonatal lupus is caused by antibodies from the mother affecting the womb.
- Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus- This lupus refers to painful skin lesions that appear on parts of the body after sun exposure.
6. Diagnosing lupus can be difficult. Diagnosing lupus is described as assembling a puzzle. Doctors look at various factors like symptoms, medical/family history, and lab tests to determine a diagnosis. Blood tests, urine tests, and biopsies are a few of the lab tests performed when diagnosing lupus.
7. There is no cure for lupus. Treatment is long-term. Medications used to treat the symptoms of lupus include aspirin, acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), and corticosteroids, antimalarials, immunosuppressives, anticoagulants, monoclonal antibodies, and Repository Corticotropin Injection.
Lupus is a painful disease with reports dating back to the 1200s. It is unfortunate for anyone who must experience it especially with the lack of a cure. A life with lupus is manageable with proper treatment. There are numerous successful individuals who have come forward with having lupus including Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Nick Cannon, and Toni Braxton. If you are interested in donating to lupus research a contribution can be made on the Lupus Foundation of America website. Any contribution will be greatly appreciated.