Lupus is an autoimmune disease that involves a human’s immune system. The body is armed with a sophisticated immune system that protects the body from pathogens and foreign substances trying to invade the body. It eliminates cellular debris and infected cells by producing antibodies that fight germs and infection.
With Lupus, the immune system works intensively that it can’t distinguish healthy normal body cells from infection-causing germs. The immune system then produces autoantibodies that attack normal body cells. The effect of this hyperactivity of the immune system varies from one patient to another, thus, exhibiting different symptoms. Some people feel weak, fatigued, and nauseous. They may also experience appetite loss, swelling of the glands, and falling hair. Abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea may also be present. Because of this, it is hard to diagnose.
A blood test may be done and the person needs to consult a rheumatologist, who will identify the presence of 11 common signs:
- Malar rash is a butterfly-shaped rash that appears on the cheeks crossing the nose.
- The discoid rash is characterized by patches that may appear anywhere on the face, along the arms, on the scalp, or even ears.
- Photosensitivity means a sensitive reaction to ultraviolet rays, which may also worsen the person’s condition.
- Mouth ulcers usually appear even without the person being aware of it.
- Arthritis makes joints hurt, oftentimes in the hands’ legs, and feet but it doesn’t damage the bone.
- Serositis is the collection of liquid substances near the linings that cover different organs such as the heart and lungs.
- Kidney problems often occur, but only half of the people with the disease are likely to have kidney damage permanently.
- Neurologic problems like seizures may also trigger the disease.
- Blood problems like lower number count of red and white blood cells, and/or platelets can also be caused by SLE.
- The immune system also malfunctions with SLE.
- The positive result for the ANA test means that a person has an antibody that is common among 95% of patients with SLE.
There are three types of Lupus. The most common of which is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). SLE causes inflammation and tissue damage. The usual target of this chronic disease would be the heart, joints, skin, lungs, blood vessels, liver, kidney, and nervous system. Another type is a skin disease called Discoid Lupus. This causes rashes that may lead to scarring. This type is much rare than SLE.
There is a possibility, that this type would develop to mild SLE, but it will have the same damaging effect. The third type is the Drug-Induced Lupus. This type is caused by the body’s reaction to certain drugs such as antiseizure medicines. The effect is comparable to SLE, but the symptoms usually go away once the person stops taking the medicines.
What exactly causes Lupus remains debatable and unresolved, but researchers have enumerated some factors, base on the frequency of occurrences, that may contribute to acquiring of the disease. First, is gender. It has been found that of 1.5 million Americans, 90% of which are females. It is also being linked to the female hormone, estrogen, due to a high incidence among females during childbearing age. Another factor is race or ethnicity.
The majority of the people diagnosed with the disease are African-American, Asian-American, Latin-American, and Native-American women than in non-Hispanic Caucasian women. Lastly, it can also be hereditary. The blueprint of the disease may be passed to another generation. Some may manifest when triggered by stress or a major infection.