Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic is a condition that lasts longer than six weeks and often for many years. In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs ("foreign invaders," like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues ("auto" means "self") and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body. There are generally four recognized forms or types of lupus: Cutaneous (skin) Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Drug-induced Erythematosus and Neonatal Lupus.

Here are some facts about lupus:

Lupus is a disease of flares (the symptoms worsen and you feel ill) and remissions (the symptoms improve and you feel better). Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor.

Lupus is not contagious, not even through sexual contact.

Lupus is not like or related to cancer.

Lupus is not like or related to HIV (Human Immune Deficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

Research estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus.

Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age (15-44). However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too.

Women of color are 2-3 times more likely to develop lupus.

People of all races and ethnic groups can develop lupus.

What are some of the symptoms of Lupus:

Extreme fatigue, headaches, painful and swollen joints, anemia, swelling (edema) in feet, legs, hands and/or around eyes, pain in chest with deep breathing (pleurisy), butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose, sun and light sensitivity, hair loss, abnormal blood clotting, fingers turning white and/or blue when cold (Raynaud’s phenomenon), mouth and nose ulcers

Lupus is sometimes called "the great imitator" because its symptoms are often like the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, blood disorders, fibromyalgia, diabetes, thyroid problems, Lyme disease, and a number of heart, lung, muscle, and bone diseases

Here are some of the risk factors for developing Lupus:

Sex - 90% of people with Lupus are women

Age - Symptoms and diagnosis occur most often when women are in their childbearing years, between the ages of 15 and 44.

Race - In the United States, lupus is more common in people of color -- African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders

Family history - Relatives of people with lupus have an approximately 5-13 percent chance of developing lupus.

The idea that lupus is generally a fatal disease is a big misconception. In fact, the prognosis of lupus is much better today than ever before. Consult with your family physician if you believe that you are at risk of having Lupus. The form of lupus and its symptoms determine what type of doctor you will see. Your management will enlist a multi layer approach from different specialities depending on the system that is being effected.

The Tuesday's health blog topic of the day is to be used as a source of initial introduction to a health issue or to reinforce what knowledge you may already have. This information should not be used as a medical substitute from the sound and professional advice that your physician can offer you. For additional information, please log onto http://www.lupus.org/ but most importantly, contact your physician. The above information was taken from this site.

Peace and Blessings,

Tracey ReNissa

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