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Lupus, the disease of 1000 faces

Updated on September 14, 2012
The classic Butterfly rash shown along with how prevalent a rash may be in a certain area.
The classic Butterfly rash shown along with how prevalent a rash may be in a certain area. | Source

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Lupus is known as the disease of 1000 faces(due to no cases being the same). It is one of the many hundred of autoimmune disorders. The name comes from the Latin meaning of wolf because a French physician thought the lesions that occured looked like wolf bites. The full name is known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. There are three other types of Lupus, with the one just mentioned being the most serious. The other three types of Lupus are:

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus- This type affects only the skin.

Neonatal Lupus- This happens when a mother with certain antibodies (that are linked to auto-immune diseases) passes them to the developing fetus

Drug-induced Lupus Erythematosus- This can occur after some people take certain prescription medication.

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect many body systems. This includes the joints, skin, kidneys, lungs, heart, even your blood cells, and then new problems can stem off this so it becomes a sort of domino effect. Normally, a person’s immune system does its job properly to identify and attack/destroy harmful substances but in a person with Lupus, the immune system starts attacking healthy tisses. An example would be the body would mistake your own kidneys as an enemy and start destroying it. It’s not contagious; you can’t pass it on to someone you love such as a cold. It is rare in men, but very prevalent in woman, the cause is unknown, but it may be due to female hormones. The reason some people acquire this disease and others do not is because of many factors: a previous exposure to a disease could cause a person to be more susceptible, a genetic factor could play in, such as the Neonatal type of Lupus- where certain antibodies are passed on to the child. A virus or cluster of those influenced could trigger this condition.

Like fingerprints or snow flakes, no pair of cases of Lupus are the same, hence the nickname of the disease of 1000 faces. It is difficult to diagnose Lupus. Lupus can be acute, (or be slowly developing). It can range from mild to very severe, and for most people it is permanent. As many other conditions, flares occur for a period of time where it gets worse, but then seem to disappear. Lupus is difficult to diagnose because of its changing symptoms. The big four symptoms are: joint pain, sun sensitivity, exhaustion/fatigue, and the red rash that looked like the wolf bite. There are tons of minor symptoms as well, such as hair loss, chest pain, memory loss and depression. The rash was actually discovered around 400 years B.C. The intermittent rash appears over the bridge of the nose and across both cheeks. Sun sensitivity can make your symptoms worse. The sun's rays stimulate production of auto-antibodies which activate Lupus. You may hurt all over, your joints, maybe even your muscles. You can get so tired you might be exhausted just from taking out the garbage.

Some serious complications can arise from this disease. This depends where the body attacks itself but serious kidney damage may occur. Kidney failure is the leading cause of death in Lupus patients. Another dangerous area for it to attack is the nervous system. If this vital area is attacked, headaches and hallucinations and even seizures ensue. 80 percent of people with Lupus may experience cognitive dysfunction such as confusion. A person with Lupus could develop problems with their blood, such as bleeding or clotting issues as well as inflammation which kills 7 percent of the people with it. If your lungs get attacked, you may find it is painful to breathe due to the inflammation of the chest cavity lining. Increased risks of heart attacks, and strokes, pregnancy complication would also occur. The hip joint may suffer from bone tissue death which occurs in 10 percent of the people, 2 of the drugs used to treat Lupus (corticosteroid and cytotoxic) affect the immune system which causes it to be easier to get an infection which in turn, creates a cycle of making Lupus worth. The last complication is cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, but it is rare this happens. The prognosis of this disease used to be very grim but a drug called Benlysta was recently approved to be the first drug approved to treat Lupus in more than a half-century, breakthroughs keep occurring, hopefully someday for other diseases with no clear cut treatment.


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