Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease. It is an autoimmune disease in which your body’s immune system can attack your own tissues and organs.
What is Lupus?
Normally, your body produces antibodies which are proteins as a means of protection from bacteria, viruses and other antigens. But in a person suffering from this condition, the immune system is unable to differentiate between the antigens and tissues & cells in the body. As a result, the immune system creates auto antibodies which attacks the different parts of the body causing pain and inflammation.
How common is Lupus?
According a research estimate, around 1.5 million Americans suffer from lupus. The number may be even more if a proper large scale study was done to give a correct estimate of Americans living with this condition. About 5 million people are believed to be living with this condition world wide.
Lupus can occur in men, women, teenagers and children but it is more likely to strike women of child bearing age. This disease develops more likely between ages 15 and 44 in most people. More than caucasians, women of color have 2 to 3 times the chances of developing this condition. Also lupus can occur in people of all races and all ethnic groups.
Different types of Lupus
There are different types of lupus. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most common type. It affects mainly the internal organs of your body. This condition can affect heart, lungs, skin, joints, blood vessels, liver, kidneys and nervous system. SLE can occur during the childhood as well, normally between ages 3 and 15. It affects girls more than boys in the ratio of 4:1.
Discoid lupus erythematosus is another type. It causes a skin rash which doesn’t go away. Neonatal lupus affects the newborns. Drug induced lupus occurs due to other medicines.
How do people get Lupus?
Medical science does not have answer for lupus causes at this time. Different genetic and environmental factors may lead to this condition. Environmental factors like exposure to UV rays, stress, certain drugs, antibiotics and hormones can cause this disease.
Is Lupus Genetic?
The scientific community believes that there is genetic predisposition to lupus in some people that occurs across generations. But no particular gene or genes that is known to cause lupus have been identified so far.
In order to differentiate between lupus and other diseases American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has recommended 11 symptoms. A person having four or more of the symptoms either at the same time or at different periods is said to have lupus
- Malar rash
- Discoid rash
- Oral ulcers
- Neurologic disorders
- Renal disorder
- Hematologic disorder
- Immunologic disorder
- Antinuclear antibody
Is Lupus Curable?
Unfortunately lupus is not curable. Treatment varies from individual to individual on the basis of symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment helps to manage the symptoms and to reduce the chances of causing permanent damage to the organs in the body. In fact the best treatment approach is to have a healthcare team prescribe a tailor made treatment plan depending on your specific condition.