Lupus; or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes an individual’s immune system to attack their body’s own healthy tissues. Damage from these attacks results in widespread inflammation that can appear across virtually every part of the body. Common focal points include the skin, joints, and organs. Symptoms of lupus vary from person to person. The exact cause of Lupus is unknown; likewise, it isn’t known why Lupus occurs much more often among women than men.
A Misunderstood Condition
There aren’t many health conditions that are as misunderstood as Lupus. Even so, the public’s lack of knowledge concerning this chronic disease might not be such a surprising thing. There are few health conditions that can present such a bewildering array of seemingly unrelated symptoms. If that wasn’t bad enough, Lupus often seems to have a mind of its own; symptoms often vary wildly in severity, seemingly without cause. This particular characteristic of Lupus can be among the most upsetting because of its unfortunate social impacts.
Lupus progresses through intermittent periods of flaring and remission. This unpredictable ebb and flow of symptoms means that an individual suffering from Lupus might appear to be perfectly healthy one day and then completely disabled a day or two later. This symptomatic roller-coaster ride too often leads to patients being unfairly accused of malingering. In fact, this happens so much among those with Lupus that many patients express a profound sense of relief upon receiving their initial diagnosis; finally, they have an explanation for the pain and suffering they have endured for so long. They aren’t crazy.
Signs and Symptoms of Lupus
Part of the challenge of diagnosing this complex condition has to do with the sheer number and wide range of symptoms that have been linked to Lupus. These can include:
- Persistent fever
- Blood clots
- Weight loss
- Hair loss
- Painful and swollen joints (arthritis)
- Chronic gastrointestinal pain
- Chronic chest pain
- Chronic shortness of breath
- Fluid buildup surrounding the heart or lungs
- Color changes in response to cold (Raynaud’s Syndrome)
- Swelling of fingers and toes
- Recurrent sores in the mouth and nose
- Bone Loss
- Kidney complications (Lupus Nephritis)
- Neurological problems (seizures, strokes, etc.)
With such a long list of symptoms, Lupus can be difficult to diagnose. Fortunately, it does have a sort of “calling card:” a butterfly-shaped rash centered on the face. This is known as the “Malar Rash” and is considered to be the most recognizable symptom of Lupus. If Lupus is suspected, there are a number of reliable tests available to help doctors deliver a more certain diagnosis.
Loving Life (Even with Lupus)
From the amount of research that has been dedicated to the understanding and treatment of Lupus in recent years to the large number of established therapies and emerging treatments for the condition, never has there been such a time of excitement and hope for treating Lupus. Now more than ever, Lupus patients can expect to lead long and healthy lives provided that they are receiving proper care.
Advanced Rheumatology of Houston is the Gulf Coast’s premier medical practice dedicated to helping those struggling with this complex condition. If you or someone you love has Lupus, Advanced Rheumatology of Houston would like to offer a unique opportunity to participate in a research study to evaluate an investigational treatment for Lupus. We are currently accepting an extremely limited number of candidates for participation in the study.
Advanced Rheumatology of Houston; giving you the help you need to take the uncertainty out of Lupus.