Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can affect almost any part of the body, most often affecting the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood, or brain. There are several different forms of Lupus, including Systemic Lupus Erythematosus(SLE), Discoid Lupus or Cutaneous, Neonatal, or Drug Induced, all of which are predominated by inflammation. Lupus is a chronic condition, which means it is a lifelong diagnosis, but this does not mean that lupus is always correlated to active disease. Lupus is a disease of flare ups and remissions, which can last from a few days to a few years. Lupus can range from mild skin rashes to life-threatening systemic organ involvement.
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, though all races and ethnic groups can develop lupus. It is noted that more than 20,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually across the country.
Some of the presenting symptoms of Lupus may include:
• Joint pain
• Muscle aches
• Kidney or urinary difficulty
• Respiratory problems
• Hair loss
• Vascular changes
• Rashes, lesions, and skin discoloration -The variety of skin rashes seen in lupus, including the typical butterfly rash and photosensitivity reaction are due to inflammation
An expert physician can diagnose lupus, can establish disease severity and activity, and devise a treatment plan based on these factors. Since the drugs used to treat lupus can have significant side effects, it is important to avoid overtreatment, while at the same time it is important to treat active disease. Consultation with an expert physician can benefit all lupus patients.What Causes Lupus?