Lupus a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your body's immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs. Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms often mimic those of other ailments. The most distinctive sign of lupus is a facial rash that resembles the wings of a butterfly unfolding across both cheeks occurring in most cases of lupus. The diagnosis of lupus is usually made on clinical grounds. The combination of some of the features described above, especially the skin rashes, usually but not always makes the diagnosis clear.
Unfortunately, in many patients, especially those who do not have the classical tell-tale rashes, the diagnosis is missed. This is particularly true for those with more "vague" symptoms such as fatigue, depression or headaches. Often the patients are given the wrong diagnosis such as "ME" or "atypical" multiple sclerosis. Diagnosis is critical and any individual in whom lupus is suspected (or for that matter the relative or offspring of any individual with lupus in whom the diagnosis is a consideration) should have the simple blood tests performed.
Who gets lupus?
Anyone can get lupus, but women are most at risk. Lupus is two to three times more common in African American women than in Caucasian women. It's also more common in Hispanic, Asian, and Native American women. African American and Hispanic women are more likely to have severe forms of lupus.
What causes lupus?
The cause of lupus is not known.
What are the symptoms of lupus?
Lupus can have many symptoms, and they differ from person to person. Some of the more common ones are:
How do I know if I have lupus?
There is no single test to diagnose lupus, and it's often mistaken for other diseases. So it may take months or years for a doctor to diagnose it. Your doctor may use many tools to make a diagnosis:
What are the treatments for lupus?
There is no cure for lupus, but medicines and lifestyle changes can help control it.
People with lupus often need to see different doctors. You will have a primary care doctor and a rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in the diseases of joints and muscles). Which other specialists you see depends on how lupus affects your body. For example, if lupus damages your heart or blood vessels, you would see a cardiologist.
Your primary care doctor should coordinate care between your different health care providers and treat other problems as they come up. Your doctor will develop a treatment plan to fit your needs. You and your doctor should review the plan often to be sure it is working. You should report new symptoms to your doctor right away so that your treatment plan can be changed if needed.
The goals of the treatment plan are to:
Treatments may include drugs to:
Besides taking medicines for lupus, you may need to take medicines for problems that are related to lupus such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or infection.
Alternative treatments are those that are not part of standard treatment. At this time, no research shows that alternative medicine can treat lupus. Some alternative or complementary approaches may help you cope or reduce some of the stress associated with living with a chronic illness. You should talk to your doctor before trying any alternative treatments.
How can I cope with lupus?
It is important to take an active role in your treatment. It helps to learn more about lupus - being able to spot the warning signs of a flare can help you prevent the flare or make the symptoms less severe.
It is also important to find ways to cope with the stress of having lupus. Exercising and finding ways to relax may make it easier for you to cope. A good support system can also help.
People with lupus have limited energy and must manage it wisely. Ask your healthcare team about ways to cope with fatigue. Most people feel better if they manage their rest and work and take their medicine. If you’re depressed, medicine and counseling can help.
It’s true that staying healthy is harder when you have lupus. You need to pay close attention to your body, mind, and spirit. Having a chronic disease is stressful. People cope with stress differently. Some approaches that may help are:
Exercising is another approach that can help you cope with lupus. Types of exercise that you can practice include the following:
People with chronic diseases like lupus should check with their health care professional before starting an exercise program.
Learning about lupus may also help. People who are well-informed and take part in planning their own care, report less pain. They also may make fewer visits to the doctor, have more self-confidence, and remain more active.
Women who want to start a family should work closely with their health care team; for example, doctors, physical therapists, and nurses. Your obstetrician and your lupus doctor should work together to find the best treatment plan for you.
What Is a Flare?
When symptoms appear, it’s called a “flare.” These signs may come and go. You may have swelling and rashes one week and no symptoms at all the next. You may find that your symptoms flare after you’ve been out in the sun or after a hard day at work.
Even if you take medicine for lupus, you may find that there are times when the symptoms become worse. Learning to recognize that a flare is coming can help you take steps to cope with it. Many people feel very tired or have pain, a rash, a fever, stomach discomfort, headache, or dizziness just before a flare. Steps to prevent flares, such as limiting the time you spend in the sun (and artificial indoor light) and getting enough rest and quiet, can also be helpful.
Will I Get Medicine?
Remember that each person has different symptoms. Treatment depends on the symptoms. The doctor may give you aspirin or a similar medicine to treat swollen joints and fever. Creams may be prescribed for a rash. For more serious problems, stronger medicines such as antimalaria drugs, corticosteroids, chemotherapy drugs, and biologic drugs, including a BLyS-specific inhibitor, are used. Your doctor will choose a treatment based on your symptoms and needs.
What Will the Doctor Do?
Go see a doctor. He or she will talk to you and take a history of your health problems. Many people have lupus for a long time before they find out they have it. It’s important that you tell the doctor or nurse about your symptoms. This information, along with a physical examination and the results of laboratory tests, helps the doctor decide whether you have lupus or something else.
A rheumatologist (ROOM-uh-TALL-uh-jist) is a doctor who specializes in treating diseases that affect the joints and muscles, like lupus. You may want to ask your regular doctor for a referral to a rheumatologist. In some cases, a dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in treating diseases that affect the skin, may be involved in diagnosis and treatment. No single test can show that you have lupus. Your doctor may have to run several tests and study your medical history. It may take time for the doctor to diagnose lupus.
For extra information on Lupus or answers to other questions you might
have, feel free to read this helpful Information & Referral Guide on Lupus.
Document Provided By:
The Lupus Foundation of America
The modification date for all health, and medical content on this page was last updated, and checked on April 23rd, 2017 PST U.S.A.
The above info provided by: https://medlineplus.gov/lupus.html https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Lupus/living_with_lupus.asp#10