About Lupus

There are several types of lupus, but this blog specifically focuses on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus), is a chronic, autoimmune disease. The immune system usually acts as a defense against foreign and harmful substances. In the case of a lupus patient, the immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks healthy parts of the body, which can cause damage to joints, skin, organs and blood vessels.

Unfortunately, several advocates argue that research on lupus still lags behind as compared to other illnesses. It thus remains a ‘mysterious’ condition for which the exact causes are unknown, and no cure has been found yet (amongst others).

FAST FACTS:

  • ‘Lupus’ literally means ‘wolf’ in Latin
  • Lupus in non-contagious.
  • Lupus occurs most often in coloured women between the age of 15-45.
  • A ‘flare’ is a period during which symptoms show up, while a ‘remission’ is a period during which symptoms are under control.
  • There is no cure for lupus – the aim of the treatment is to control symptoms.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-malarial drugs, immunosuppresants and corticosteroids are often used as treatment.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, the most common symptoms are:

  • Extreme fatigue (tiredness)
  • Headaches
  • Painful or swollen joints
  • Fever
  • Anemia
  • Swelling (edema) in feet, legs, hands, and/or around eyes
  • Pain in chest on deep breathing (pleurisy)
  • Butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose
  • Sun- or light-sensitivity (photosensitivity)
  • Hair loss
  • Abnormal blood clotting
  • Fingers turning white and/or blue when cold (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
  • Mouth or nose ulcers

According to Everyday Health, possible complications include:

  • Kidney failure
  • Blood problems, such as anemia bleeding, or clotting
  • High blood pressure
  • Vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels)
  • Memory problems
  • Behavior changes or hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease or heart attack
  • Lung conditions, such as pleurisy (inflammation of the chest cavity lining) or pneumonia
  • Infections
  • Cancer
  • Avascular necrosis (death of bone tissue due to a lack of blood supply)

 Awareness:

  • Awareness Month: May
  • Awareness ribbon colour: Purple
  • Symbol: The butterfly is often used as symbol for lupus awareness, referring to the butterfly-shaped Malar rash which some patients develop across their face.