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By Teresa Bigham/The Hesperian-Beacon—
FLOYD COUNTY – Lupus is a long-term autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue.
Due to its complex nature lupus is sometimes referred to as the disease of 1,000 faces.
In 2019 the Center of Disease control reported 16,000 new cases in the United States. Lupus is not a contagious disease. A person cannot transmit it sexually or in any other way to another person.
Lupus affects women, and it is most likely to appear between the ages of 15 to 44, according to Lupus Foundation of America.
Lupus can sometimes affect the brain or central nervous system. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, depression memory disturbance, vision problems, seizures, or strokes. Lupus also can cause inflammation of the kidneys and can make it difficult for the body to remove waste products and other toxins effectively. One to three people with lupus will have kidney problems.
Some people with lupus develop pleuritis, an inflammation of the lining of the chest cavity that causes chest pain, particularly with breathing. Pneumonia may develop. Vasculitis or inflammation of the blood vessels can also occur. This can affect the circulation.
Lupus also can cause anemia, leukopenia, fewer white blood cells or it can cause thrombocytopenia, a decreased in number of platelets in the blood which assist in clotting.
Lupus can cause inflammation in the heart, which can result in myocarditis and endocarditis. It also can affect the membrane that surrounds the heart, causing pericarditis.
Bone tissue death also can occur with lupus. This occurs when there is low blood supply to a bone. Tiny breaks can develop in the bone. Eventually the bone may collapse. It most commonly affects the hip joints.
Underdiagnosis can occur because the signs and symptoms of lupus are not specific. On the other hand, some blood tests can lead to overdiagnosis because people without lupus can have the same antibodies as those with the condition. A doctor may request some blood test and other labs to diagnose.
Biomarkers are antibodies, proteins, genetic and other factors that can show a doctor what is happening in the body or how the body is responding to treatment. They are useful because they can indicate if a person has a condition even when there are no symptoms.
Lupus affects individuals in different ways. This makes it difficult to find reliable biomarkers. However, a combination of blood tests and other investigations can help doctors confirm a diagnosis.
There is currently no cure for lupus, but people can manage their symptoms and flare ups with lifestyle changes and medication.
Symptoms of lupus
By Teresa Bigham /The Hesperian-Beacon—
Common symptoms of lupus:
• Extreme fatigue that doesn’t go away with rest
• Joint pain, stiffness and swelling in two or more joints
• Fever over 100 degrees
• Muscle pain
• Hair loss
• Skin sores and rashes (which may occur in a butterfly-shaped pattern across the cheeks and nose)
• Nose or mouth sores (usually painless)
• Skin rashes after sun exposure