Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system targets and attacks its tissues and organs.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system targets and attacks its tissues and organs. Interestingly, more than 90% of lupus patients are women. Most of them start experiencing symptoms when they are in their childbearing age (15 to 49 years, according to WHO).
Causes of Lupus
The specific reason for getting lupus is unknown. Researchers understand, however, lupus involves some interaction among various factors, including one’s genes, ethnicity, immune system, hormones, and the environment.
In certain vulnerable people, exposure to UV rays, certain infections, and drugs have been found to play a role in promoting lupus.
Several factors make a person more likely to develop lupus:
- Female gender
- Childbearing age
- African American
- Asian American
- Native American
- Pacific Islander
- Having a family member with lupus (genetics)
First sign of Lupus
Lupus is a lifelong disease that can directly or indirectly affect any part of your body. The signs and symptoms of lupus depend on whether you develop the disease as a child or an adult. Most lupus patients visit their doctor with rash or joint pain as initial complaints.
In children, the following symptoms are common:
- Malar rash (a butterfly-shaped rash involving the cheeks and the bridge of the nose)
- Increased tendency for bleeding
- Pale or anemic appearance
- Joint pain
In adults, the following symptoms can also be observed:
- Dry and itchy eyes
- Dry mouth
- Fingers and joints turning pale or bluish on exposure to stress and cold
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
Other symptoms include:
- Rash that worsens on exposure to the sun
- Mental changes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain abdomen
- Weight loss
- Nerve pain
- Memory impairment
- Frequent spontaneous abortions
The classic triad of lupus is rash, fever, and joint pain in a female childbearing age.
Lupus does not have a cure. As lupus involves different organs in the body, the treatment aims to provide relief from the symptoms, improve quality of life, and prevent further damage to the organs. Thus, treating lupus is a lifelong process.
Lupus does not spread from person to person by touch or any other means. Since it depends on many factors, including genes and immunity, you cannot ‘catch’ lupus-like flu or other infections.