What is Lupus? (Systemic lupus erythematosus)
At its extreme Lupus is a life threatening auto-immune disease; however, in most cases, people with Lupus lead normal lives despite having this dangerous disease.
What is Lupus?
I was very happy to see that Hubpages actually has a separate category for Lupus; Lupus is an auto-immune disease that can be life-threatening. There is a huge lack of understanding or knowledge about the disease in America and the Western World, but despite this scientists are making huge advances in research and hopefully one day we will see a cure to this and other auto-immune disease.
It was in 2001 when I first became aware of this dangerous disease. My wife had been feeling ill for a while and our doctor informed us that she had Lupus. We nodded our understanding, even though we had no idea what Lupus was. After some research we became really scared as we realized that Lupus could lead to death - that one word really shocked us, especially as we had never heard of the disease before.
Once the initial shock was over, we researched more and then talked to some specialists – Lupus can be very dangerous, but it can also be controlled, and you can live for many years with the disease.
Hopefully, with this Hub, I’ll help a few people understand more about the disease.
Lupus and the H1N1 (Swine Flu) Vaccine
With the current 'panic' relating to the H1N1 flu virus it's important to understand that the vaccine that is currently available contains 'live virus'. As Lupus is an immune system disease, where the immune system is weakened, most experts are advising people with Lupus not to get the vaccine - the best thing I can suggest is try to stay out of contact with people susceptible to Swine Flu - young children etc.
The majority of people (90%) with Lupus WILL LIVE A NORMAL life span.
What is Lupus?
Lupus is an auto-immune disease that can last for decades. Auto-immune disease are disease where the immune system fights the body and organs rather than fighting viruses. With Lupus, the immune system over-reacts and begins to attack healthy tissue and organs - these attackes can be limited, or severe and can have many far-ranging effect.
What type of Lupus are there?
There are two types of Lupus:
- Discoid lupus (also known as Cutaneous lupus) is a less severe variety of Lupus that is essentially 'skin deep' - generally the symptons include skin rashes, ulcers and sensitivity to the sun - additionally, tiredeness and lethargia are common.
- Systemic lupus is the more severe variety of Lupus. It attacks are deeper than Discoud and include severe attacks on the skin, the joints, major organs (such as the lungs, heart, kidnbeys and brain) - it can lead to severe weakness and fatigue.
If I have Discoid Lupus, am I immune to Systemic Lupus?
No, about 1 in 10 cases of Discoid Lupus will become the more sever Systemic Lupus - most doctors advice monitoring your symptoms, and getting regular blood tests to see if there are any changes.
What causes Lupus?
While there is much research going into the causes and potential cures to Lupus, no one has a clear answer as to the cause. Most suspect there are genetic triggers caused by stress, environmental or physical problems. There have been cases linked to antibiotics, infections and viruses and some people link hormonal problems. Suffice to say, know one really knows.
Is Lupus hereditary?
While there is no proof, it is suspected that Lupus is hereditary - most doctor's advice children of sufferers to get annual check ups.
How common is Lupus?
Lupus is more prevalent in women - 7 out of 8 sufferers are women.
Like many disease, there seems to be some correlation of Lupus to Ethnic Groups:
- One in a thousand Caucasians suffer from Lupus.
- Four in a thousand African Americans suffer from Lupus.
- Two in a thousand Lations suffer from Lupus.
What doctor should I see?
IN many cases your normal GP can treat the symptoms of Lupus. However, the more severe the disease is the more likely you should seek out a specialist such as a rheumatologist, a dermatologist or an immunologist. It is also very important that you vist the optician on a regular basis.
Do all sufferrers get the same symptoms?
Unfortunately no; the symptons will vary from person to person, with some symptoms being more severe for some, and simply not present for others. This makes Lupus very difficult to diagnose.
I've heard about 'Flares' with Lupus. What is a Flare?
Lupus can go undetected for many years with many symptoms lying dormant for long periods. Occasionally the symptoms will appear (or flare up) signifying the Lupus is becoming active. Again this can make Lupus very difficult to diagnose.
Can the symptoms of Lupus change?
As various symptoms will 'flare' over time, then it seems that the symptoms are changing - also the Lupus can become more severe. However, it's likely that all the symptoms were already there, they were just not visible when Lupus was first diagnosed. Generally though, it is thought that the affected organ system remains constant.
Is Lupus contagious?
No - because the symptoms are often visible on the skin, many assume that it can be transferred by contact - this simply is not true.
Is there a cure for Lupus?
No - however, researches are getting closer to a cure every day, especially with the unlocking of the genome - so hopefully we'll see progress soon. See the hub below for more information:
- Lupus Cures Arriving Soon
November 20, 2008, marked the fifty years without a new drug developed to treat lupus patients. Clinical Trials.gov describes systemic lupus erythematosus on their website. SLE is an often...
What treatments are available for Lupus?
One of the main causes of the Lupus symptoms is inflammation - therefore many of the treatments try to control and reduce the inflammation. Many NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inglammatory drugs) are used with varying success. Additionally some doctors prescribe croicosteroids, antimalruals and cytoxic drugs (or chemotherapy) - I suggests you research each of these options thoroughly and discuss them with your doctor before accepting the treatment - each has it's benefits, but also has a down side.
Is Lupus Fatal?
Nine out of ten people with Lupus will live a normal life span - with the advent of better diagnosis and better medications of the last decade, the chances of living a normal lifespan have hugely increased - some people do die of Lupus, but as time goes by the percentage is getting smaller and smaller.
The two main causes of death are kidney failure or sever infection - but these are VERY RARE.
Other Websites and Hubs on Lupus:
- Lupus - Diseases & Conditions: Health on HubPages
Articles about Lupus on HubPages, a place where you can read and write about any topic that interests you.
- Lupus erythematosus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Lupus Foundation of America
- Lupus Clinical Trials