Do You Have Lupus?

You go to the doctor complaining of a rash, painful swollen joints, a fever, trouble breathing or chest pain. Maybe you have eczema or arthritis, asthma or the flu. Maybe you have Lupus. Maybe you will leave the doctor’s office with the wrong diagnosis and medication that will not help you. But one is for sure it pays for everyone to learn about this disease. Many people even doctors have not heard much about this disease. You asking your doctor if your symptoms could be Lupus may be the first time even your doctor has heard of it. My doctor asked me what is Lupus so I explained what I knew went home and researched it on the internet and gave her the information I found. More people need to be informed of this disease so those that have it can get treatment.

Have you ever had achy, painful and/or swollen joints for more than three months? Do your fingers and/or toes become pale, numb or uncomfortable in the cold? Have you had any sores in your mouth for more than two weeks? Have you ever been told that you have a low blood count(s) – anemia, low white cell count or a low platelet count? Have you ever had a prominent redness or color change on your face in the shape of a butterfly across the bridge of your nose and cheeks? Have you ever had an unexplained fever over 100 degrees for more than a few days? Have you ever had sensitivity to the sun where you skin “breaks out” after being in the sun, but it’s not a sunburn? Have you ever had chest pain with breathing for more than a few days (pleurisy)? Have you ever been told you have protein in your urine? Have you ever experienced persistent, extreme fatigue/exhaustion and weakness for days or even weeks at a time even after 6-8 hours of restful nighttime sleep? Have you ever had a seizure or convulsion?

If you answered yes to at least 3 of these questions then there is a possibility that you could have Lupus and you need to discuss this with doctor.

Ok so now you’re wondering “What is Lupus?’ Well Lupus is where your body’s immune system stops doing its job or to be more precise Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease which causes inflammation of various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood and kidneys. The body’s immune system normally makes proteins called antibodies to protect the body against viruses, bacteria and other foreign materials. These foreign materials are called antigens. In an autoimmune disorder such as Lupus, the immune system loses its ability to tell the difference between foreign substances (antigens) and its own cells and tissues. The immune system then makes antibodies directed against “self”. These antibodies called “auto- antibodies” react with the “self” antigens to form immune complexes. The immune complexes build up in the tissues and can cause inflammation, injury to tissues, and pain.

There is also different types of Lupus. When someone says, “I have lupus,” he or she could be affected in many different ways depending on the type of lupus present. The different types are Cutaneous Lupus: ACLE, SCLE, CCLE, or DLE Systemic Lupus: SLE Drug- Induced Lupus. So what does each kind mean?

Cutaneous (skin) lupus affects primarily the skin, but may also involve the hair and mucous membranes. It is frequently referred to as discoid lupus.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): can affect any system or organ in the body including the joints, skin, lungs, heart, blood, kidney, or nervous system. Symptoms of SLE can range from being a minor inconvenience to very serious and even life threatening. A person may experience no pain or they may experience extreme pain, especially in the joints. There may be no skin manifestations or rashes that are disfiguring. They may have no organ involvement or extreme organ damage. Most often when people mention “lupus,” they are referring to the systemic form of the disease.

Drug-induced lupus erythematosus (DILE): is a side effect of long-term use of certain medications. Some symptoms overlap with those of SLE. Once the suspected medication is stopped, symptoms should decline within days and usually disappear within one or two weeks.

Ok so now your probably wondering what causes Lupus? Lupus is NOT infectious, rare, or cancerous or AIDS. Researchers do not know what causes lupus. While scientists believe there is a genetic predisposition to the disease, it is known that environmental factors also play a role in triggering the disease. Some of the factors that may trigger lupus include infections, antibiotics, ultraviolet light, extreme stress, certain drugs, and hormones. Hormonal factors may explain why lupus occurs more frequently in females than in males.

A lot of times Lupus is very hard to diagnose because it mimics so many other illnesses and the symptoms come and go. Diagnosis is usually made by a careful review of a person’s entire medical history, physical examination, coupled with an analysis of the results obtained in routine laboratory tests and some specialized tests related to immune status. Currently, there are no single laboratory test that can determine whether a person has lupus or not. It may take months or even years for doctors to piece together evolving symptoms and accurately diagnose lupus.

A woman in her child bearing years with Lupus may wonder “Can I have Children?” Twenty years ago the answer would have been “no.” But today, successful pregnancy and childbirth are possible. It is wise for lupus patients to be in the care of a high-risk ob/gyn.

I’m sure your asking ok” How long can I live with Lupus?” Most people with lupus can live a normal life span if they are properly treated, follow their doctor’s advice, and lead a healthy lifestyle.

While there is no cure for lupus, there are treatments. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help manage the symptoms of lupus and lessen the chance of permanent damage to organs or tissue.

Once a lupus diagnosis is established, patients are assessed for damage to major organs (central nervous system, kidneys, heart, or lungs). Treatment depends on the activity and extent of the disease, and can range from over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories to prescription medication, therapy, dietary changes, and lifestyle changes such as staying out of the sun, wearing sun block, and avoiding stress.

If you think you may have lupus go to your doctor and tell them what you suspect, have them do the tests. Because a Lupus Patient can have so many symptoms at different times it is best to write down a list of your symptoms to take with you. Remembering them all will be hard while talking to your doctor. If your doctor says you don’t have the symptoms to need tested but you still feel you do go for a second opinion you know your body better then anyone else does. Lots of people with Lupus were told by several doctors they didn’t have it just to find out later they did. It’s not the doctor’s fault there is just not enough awareness out there so you need to be persistent. It’s your life and you need the medications so you can live a healthy happy life.

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