What You Should Know About Lupus

05 October, 2020
Lupus is a chronic disease where the immune system attacks healthy cells. Therefore, it can affect multiple organs.

All around the world, there is a never-ending list of diseases. Some of these are more disconcerting than others. Consequently, they’re more well-known, dangerous, and come with detailed symptom lists. However, these diseases start to lose power when we look at other diseases. Lupus is a perfect example.

Perhaps you’ve heard about it once on this site. Or, you suffer from it and still don’t know much about it. In any case, this article will be dedicated to looking at some aspects of this condition in depth.

What’s lupus?

A woman with a rash on her face.
Lupus has a characteristic symptom on the skin of the face, a rash in the form of butterfly wings.

The United States National Library of Medicine defines it as an autoimmune disease whose cause is currently unknown. In addition, there are different types of lupus whose symptoms differ from each other.

On the other hand, it’s rare and, in turn, unpredictable as it affects the immune system. In other words, Lupus attacks and affects the important cells of this system. It destroys your body’s defenses. This makes it so you aren’t able to fight bacteria and other toxic substances in your body.

Check out this article Thymus Gland: Moderator of the Immune System

Your immune system and lupus

To understand how this disease works, it’s necessary to first understand what the immune system is. Let’s talk a little about your immune system and its importance to your body.

  • It’s your body’s natural defense against infection, as explained by the Arthritis Foundation.
  • It’s comprised of special organs, cells, tissues, and proteins, among other things.
  • All of these together carry out the main function of protecting your entire body from outside invaders.
  • Among these elements, some of the most noteworthy are bacteria, germs, and microorganisms.

To summarize, your immune system is a combination of essential functions that protect your body. But, what does this have to do with a disease like lupus?

Usually, the immune system fights viruses, germs, and bacteria. However, in some cases, a malfunction occurs and this system designed to protect us can turn against us.

When this happens, the immune system can’t distinguish between its own cells and the attacking cells and, instead of fighting the antigens, it fights its own cells. In other words, little by little, it attacks your cells and tissues.

Types

Lupus Erythematosus

An article entitled Types of Lupus: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment, published in 2018, suggests that about 5 million people worldwide suffer from one of the different types of lupus. Let’s look at each of them and their characteristics below.

1. Systemic lupus erythematosus

Also, known “SLE”, its acronym. This is the most common type of lupus. Specialists simply call it “lupus”, not using the rest of its name.

  • It affects your most important systems on a regular basis. This especially includes organs like your heart, brain, and kidneys.
  • Its symptoms are incredibly varied. Some people can have extreme symptoms, others may not have as strong of a reaction.

2. Chronic cutaneous lupus erythematosus

As the name “cutaneous” indicates, this disease mainly affects the tissues of your skin. Keep in mind that this covers 100% of your body on the surface.

Any part of your skin can be affected. And, its symptoms can show up on your face and scalp. The main ones are the appearance of skin redness or changes in skin tone.

3. Drug-induced lupus erythematosus

This kind of disease is similar to the first one. However, it’s caused by the body rejecting certain medications. Fortunately, stopping the treatment can be enough to make your symptoms better. The symptoms of drug-induced lupus can be less severe than those of systemic lupus.

4. About neonatal lupus

Although a rare variety, it’s worth mentioning it. This kind of lupus occurs when a baby acquires the antibodies of a mother who has systemic lupus erythematosus.

How to recognize this condition?

Lupus written on a notebook

This disease is complex. This is true not just for the people who suffer from it, but also for health professionals. Sometimes, it’s difficult to give a good diagnosis. Despite this, Lupus has some signs that help to identify it. Below are some of the most common according to the Lupus Foundation of America:

  • Anemia
  • Joint pain
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Sensibility to the sun
  • Hair loss
  • Joint inflammation
  • Redness in the face
  • Swelling of the thyroid glands
  • Blood clotting problems.
  • Chest pain while breathing deeply
  • Raynaud’s Disease (the fingers change color to white or purple in the cold)

It should be noted that symptoms can come and go on their own (outbreaks), and can be mild or severe. So it’s precisely this situation that makes diagnosis difficult.

You may like these Incredible Natural Remedies for Joint Pain

The cause is still unknown

This disease can show up in anyone. We don’t know where it comes from, but some experts have linked it to hereditary factors. Therefore, anyone who has a family member with lupus should be on the lookout for symptoms.

Despite the fact that there isn’t a cure, there are many ways to keep this disease under control. However, for these treatments, we need to talk to a specialist.

  • Gatto M, Zen M, Ghirardello A, et al. Emerging and critical issues in the pathogenesis of lupus. Autoimmun Rev. 2013;12(4):523-36
  • Galindo Izquierdo M. Lupus eritematosos sistémico. En: Manual SER de las enfermedades reumáticas (5.ª edición). Editorial médica Panamericana (2008)
  •  E. Cieza-Díaz, J.A. Avilés-Izquierdo, C. Ceballos-Rodríguez, R. Suárez-Fernández: Lupus eritematoso cutáneo subagudo refractario tratado con rituximabActas dermosifiliográficas
  • Lupus American Foundation. Los síntomas comunes del lupus. https://www.lupus.org/es/resources/los-sintomas-comunes-de-lupus
  • Lupus American Foundation. Los tipos de lupus. https://www.lupus.org/es/resources/varios-tipos-de-lupus
  • Lupus American Foundation. Enfermedad de Raynaud. https://www.lupus.org/es/resources/acerca-de-la-enfermedad-de-raynaud