Published on July 6th, 2013 | by Tom1
What is Lupus? Causes, Symptoms & Treatment of Lupus
Lupus, also called Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is a chronic disease that affects the immune system. Once lupus is attacked, the immune system can’t work normally, which will mistakenly fight against the body’s healthy cells.
Any part of your body may be the attack area of lupus which can be life threatening, life changing and incurable. Over 1.4 million people in the U.S. are suffering from lupus and in which about 90% are women.
Lupus is difficult to diagnose. It may take months or years to make the diagnosis. And there is no one teat can definitively diagnose lupus so far.
There is no consistent agreement about the cause of lupus. It seems that lupus is not resulting from a single cause but caused by combination of generic and environmental factors. It runs in families but no specific “lupus gene” has been found. Certain hormones are suspected to be a triggered factor for the fact that a majority of lupus cased are females. But there are some environmental factors are proved to cause lupus, such as extreme stress, heavy smoking, some medications and antibiotics, exposure to ultraviolet light.
Lupus seems including a wide range of symptoms, some are slowly developed, some are appear suddenly. But there are some most common symptoms. They are:
Painful and swollen joints including small joints of the hands, knees, elbows and ankles
- Abnormal fever (over 100 degree F)
- Extreme fatigue
- Skin rashes
- Mouth or nose ulcers
- Sun sensitivity
- Butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose
- Headaches, depression, and memory loss
Currently, there is no cure for lupus. But there are something can be done to manage and control the disease. The symptoms of lupus vary from person to person, so the treatment of the disease also should be specific.
For the mild or moderate symptoms, the recommended medicines include:
- Antimalarial drugs such as Hydroxychloroquine. These malaria medicines are useful in preventing flares of the disease.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen sodium, aspirin, and ibuprofen. These over-the-counter medicines can treat pain, swelling and fever effectively.
- Corticosteroids. This can counter the inflammation caused by lupus.
- For severe symptoms, following medicines are commonly used:
- Immunosuppressive drugs. Drugs like cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) and azathioprine (Imuran) can suppress the immune system and thus can be helpful in treating severe lupus.
- High-dose corticosteroids. These seem can control the dangerous signs or symptoms.
For some specific symptoms, there are also specific treatments:
- For skin rash, avoid exposure to the sun or wear sun block.
- For fatigue, take the proper medicine such as antimalarial drugs to treat fatigue.
- For swelling around the heart and lungs that causes chest pain, NSAIDs, corticosteroids are effective drugs.
- Seek for special kinds of doctors to treat specific symptoms: Dermatologist to treat skin disease, cardiologist to treat heart and blood vessel problems, hematologist to treat kidney disease.
All these medicines have side effects; you should seek for a doctor or read the instruction clearly to know exactly the side-effects before you take these medicines. And in addition to medicine, you can change your lifestyle to control the disease:
- Quite smoking
- Being relaxed
- Feel grateful for the support of friends and families
- Do regular exercise
- Keep a balanced diet
What you should know and remember is that the goal of all treatments is to prevent flares, reduce organ damage, reduce swelling and pain and help the immune system. So, do all things that are helpful in getting these results.