FAQ’s – Lupus Fighters of America

FAQ’s

May 10, 2021
Here are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions About Lupus.

 

What is lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease. The immune system’s job is to fight foreign substances in the body, such as germs and viruses. But in autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks healthy tissues, not germs.

Lupus is a disease that can affect many parts of the body. Lupus can involve the joints, the skin, the kidneys, the lungs, the heart, and/or the brain. If you have lupus, it may affect several parts of your body. Usually, one person doesn’t have all the possible symptoms.

What causes lupus?

We don’t know what causes lupus. There is no cure, but in most cases lupus can be managed. Lupus sometimes seems to run in families, which suggests the disease may be hereditary. Having the genes isn’t the whole story, though. The environment, sunlight, stress, and certain medicines may trigger symptoms in some people. Other people who have similar genetic backgrounds may not get signs or symptoms of the disease. Researchers are trying to find out why.

Are there different types of lupus?

The different types of lupus include:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (eh-RITH-eh-muh-TOE-sus) is the most common form. The word “systemic” means that the disease can involve many parts of the body. SLE symptoms can be mild or serious.
  • Discoid lupus erythematosus mainly affects the skin. A red, circular rash may appear, or the skin on the face, scalp, or elsewhere may change color. Discoid lupus rashes often leave scars or light-colored patches of skin after it heals.
  • Drug-induced lupus is triggered by a certain drugs. It’s like SLE, but symptoms are usually milder. Most of the time, the disease goes away when the medicine is stopped. More men develop drug-induced lupus because the drugs that cause it, hydralazine and procainamide, are used to treat heart conditions that are more common in men.

What are the signs and symptoms of lupus?

Lupus may be hard to diagnose. It’s often mistaken for other diseases. For this reason, lupus has been called the “great imitator.” The signs of lupus differ from person to person. Some people have just a few signs; others have more.

Common symptoms of lupus are:

  • Red rash or color change on the face, often in the shape of a butterfly across the nose and cheeks
  • Painful or swollen joints
  • Unexplained fever
  • Chest pain during deep breathing
  • Swollen glands
  • Extreme fatigue (feeling tired all the time)
  • Unusual hair loss (mainly on the scalp)
  • Pale or purple fingers or toes from cold or stress
  • Sensitivity to the sun
  • Low blood count
  • Depression, trouble thinking, and/or memory problems

Other signs of lupus are mouth sores, unexplained seizures (convulsions), “seeing things” (hallucinations), repeated miscarriages, and kidney problems.

Will I get medicine for lupus?

Remember that each person with lupus has different symptoms. Treatment depends on the symptoms. The doctor may give you aspirin or a similar medicine to treat swollen joints and fever. Creams may be prescribed for a rash. For more serious problems, stronger medicines such as antimalaria drugs, corticosteroids, and chemotherapy drugs are used. Your doctor will choose a treatment based on your symptoms and needs.

How Lupus Affects Your Body

Lupus can affect just about any part of your body, but medicine can help prevent and ease problems. There are also steps you can take on your own to avoid the effects of lupus on your heart, skin, kidneys, eyes, and other areas.

Heart and Lungs

Lupus raises your chances of heart disease and stroke. This is probably due to the long-term inflammation that comes with lupus. Some lupus medicines, such as steroids, may also increase the risk.

Lupus causes inflammation of the heart or the sac that surrounds it. This can cause sharp pain in the chest.

Lupus also may inflame the outside lining of your lungs. Pain often gets worse with deep breaths. This is called pleurisy. Sometimes, the lungs can develop scarring from the inflammation and cause shortness of breath.

What you can do:

Avoid smoking. Smoking makes lung infections and heart disease much more likely. It also slows your blood flow and raises your blood pressure.

Get regular exercise. It helps make your heart and lungs stronger. If you want activities that are easy on your joints, try walking, swimming, low-impact aerobics, yoga, Pilates, or using an elliptical machine.

Eat healthy. To keep your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol under control, fill up on fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Eat baked or broiled fatty fish like salmon twice a week. It’s rich in heart-healthy omega-3 oil. Avoid fast foods and fried foods.

Get up to date on vaccinations. Don’t forget to get flu and pneumonia vaccines.

Skin

You may become sensitive to the ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight, which can cause many skin changes. A common skin problem you might develop is a butterfly-shaped rash on your nose and cheeks. Red, scaly bumps or patches can develop on your body. Coin-like patches called discoid lesions can appear on your body or scalp.

You may also have skin trouble in other areas, such as:

  • Mouth or nose sores (ulcers)
  • Hair loss (but not baldness), called alopecia
  • White or blue fingers and toes in response to cold, known as Raynaud’s phenomenon

Lupus can affect just about any part of your body, but medicine can help prevent and ease problems. There are also steps you can take on your own to avoid the effects of lupus on your heart, skin, kidneys, eyes, and other areas.

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