Guide to Learning About Lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects both men and women. The disease usually occurs within the age range of 15-45 and is most common in people of Native American, African American, Hispanic and Asian decent. However, Lupus can occur in people of any race or nationality. Currently there are over 1.5 million people in the United States with the disease. There are three known types of Lupus: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Drug-induced Lupus, Neonatal Lupus and Cutaneous Erythematosus.

The disease has been noted in individuals since the 10th century when the disease name of Lupus was coined. It was believed that the sores caused by the disease resembled bites from a wolf. (Lupine is the Latin word for wolf). People afflicted with the disease today will undoubtedly tell you that the sores they have do not resemble bites from a wolf.

The diagnostic process of lupus is difficult, even for experienced physicians. The disease often mimics other diseases, which is why Lupus is often referred to as “the great imitator.” Lupus is also often diagnosed alongside other diseases. Common dual-diagnoses include Lupus/Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus/Sjogren’s Disease and Lupus/Scleroderma. Many sufferers of the disease can go through months of health problems before the root cause of their symptoms is discovered. Many patients are tested for thyroid problems, anemia, drug allergies and even brain scans due to chronic head and neck aches before a blood test reveals the truth.

There are many symptoms that can help a physician diagnose a patient with Lupus. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, they are as follows:

�· A fever of 100 degrees or more for long periods of time
�· Constant fatigue
�· Mouth sores that last for longer than two weeks
�· Hair loss
�· Anemia
�· Protein in the urine
�· Problems with blood clotting normally
�· Sensitivity to sunlight and ultra-violet light
�· Painful or swollen joints
�· Pain in the chest when breathing deeply
�· Fingers that turn white or purplish when cold
�· Seizures

People suffering from Lupus will have at least four of the above health problems and many times they have more. The most common indicators are constant fatigue, a fever, protein in the urine and painful or swollen joints. A common misconception about the disease is that a butterfly rash must be present on the face before a person can be diagnosed with the disease. The truth is that only a small number of people with the disease have the trademark rash.

What can you do if you are diagnosed with Lupus? The first thing is to try and relax. Stress seems to cause flare-ups, which make it harder for you to keep healthy. Diet is another important factor in treating the disease. Lupus patients need to eat a balanced diet and avoid low-carb diets. Diets high in protein can cause problems with your kidneys and kidney disease is a huge problem for Lupus patients. Getting plenty of rest is also very important when you have this disease. In fact, you may find yourself taking naps when you never did before. Many Lupus patients will even take a day off during the week when they severely limit their activities in order to give their bodies a much-needed rest. Finally, discuss with your physician some exercise options. The worst thing you can do is become overweight because doing so can put you at risk for other diseases.

A strong support system consisting of family and friends can help sufferers of Lupus stay healthier and live a longer life. Whether you are a person with Lupus or a person that knows someone with the disease consider becoming an advocate and help spread the word about this life threatening disease.

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