The Mayo Clinic defines Lupus as a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your bodies immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. This may affect multiple body organs including joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs.
It may be difficult to diagnose Lupus because symptoms and signs might mimic other ailments. Other forms of Lupus can cause a skin rash, make the skin sensitive to sunlight, or worsen with some medications.
Patients usually have flare-ups and remissions.
Early Symptoms of Lupus
Many who have Lupus will also have chronic fatigue. They may find themselves napping during the day or not have enough energy to engage in everyday living activities.
Rashes and Hair Loss
These may be the earliest indicators of Lupus. The rashes are mostly reddish and mostly seen on the face and may look like a butterfly. The hair loss is caused by inflammation of the scalp, and it will vary from person to person. Some may lose hair in clumps, whereas most will just see gradual thinning.
Joint pain can occur in the wrists, hands, fingers, and knees. Your joints may look inflamed while the pain is flaring up.
Many Lupus patients will run a low-grade fever on occasion. If you have unexplained fevers, you should contact your provider for a check-up.
Ultraviolet rays can cause patients to break out in a rash. Some medications could cause this symptom to get worse.
What Causes Lupus?
The cause of Lupus is not known. Research suggests that genes play an important role, but genes alone do not determine who get Lupus. It is likely that many factors trigger the disease. Researchers are looking at genetics, biomarkers, and newer ways to manage patients including reducing the antibodies.
How is Lupus Medically Managed?
You should contact your primary care provider if you develop any of the symptoms mentioned. Your provider may refer your for further consultation with other physicians. You will need to see them regularly to make sure the plan is working. In addition if there are any new symptoms, they need to be reported right away.
The goal of the treatment plan is to prevent flares, treat flares when they occur, and reduce organ damage when they occur. Treatment may include medications to reduce swelling, flares, limit joint damage, and help improve the immune system and hormonal function.
Your doctor might prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, antimalarial drugs, corticosteroids, or newer immunosuppressant drugs like leflunomide or micophenolate and belimumab.
What can I do?
Patients need to take an active role in treatment. They need to know about the disease and its impact and spot warning signs or flare-ups. These may include, feeling more tired, pain, rash, fever, abdominal pain, headache, and dizziness.
It is very important for patients to stay engaged and monitor both the symptoms and signs of the disease process and the side effects and drug interactions of medications.
Complementary and alternative treatments might include Dehydroepiandrosterone, Fish Oil, and Vitamin D.