What the heck is it? Lupus is quite the mystery, isn't it? It's something that isn't talked about much on TV, social
media, or even at the doctor's office. Yet, it's a chronic autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Lupus can be unpredictable and difficult to diagnose, making it a challenge for those living with the disease to manage their symptoms. Today, I'll delve deeper into the topic of lupus and discuss some of the common misconceptions surrounding the disease. My goal is to provide you with a better understanding of what lupus is and how it can impact those who live with it. So, let's break down the barriers and start talking about lupus!
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. The disease can manifest in a variety of ways, making it difficult to diagnose and treat. In this article, we will discuss what lupus is and the things to look out for, as well as the criteria rheumatologists look for in lupus patients.
What is Lupus? Lupus is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body's immune system attacks its own healthy tissues and organs. This results in inflammation, which can cause damage to various parts of the body such as the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, and lungs. There are four main types of lupus, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), cutaneous lupus, drug-induced lupus, and neonatal lupus. SLE is the most common type and can affect many different parts of the body.
Symptoms of Lupus Lupus symptoms can vary widely from person to person, but some of the most common symptoms include:
Joint pain and stiffness
Skin rashes or lesions, particularly on the face or scalp
Chest pain or shortness of breath
Sensitivity to sunlight
Raynaud's phenomenon (fingers turning white or blue in response to cold or stress)
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to talk to your doctor, as they could be signs of lupus or another underlying health condition.
Criteria for Diagnosing Lupus Diagnosing lupus can be challenging, as the disease can mimic the symptoms of other conditions. To make a diagnosis, rheumatologists (doctors who specialize in treating arthritis and other autoimmune diseases) use a combination of clinical symptoms and laboratory tests.
The American College of Rheumatology has established criteria for diagnosing lupus, which include:
Presence of at least four of the following symptoms:
Malar rash: (a butterfly-shaped rash on the face)
Discoid rash: (red, scaly patches on the skin)
Photo-sensitivity: (skin rash in response to sunlight)
Arthritis: (swollen, painful joints)
Serositis: (inflammation of the lining around the lungs or heart)
Renal disorder: (abnormal kidney function)
Neurologic disorder: (seizures or psychosis)
Hematologic disorder: (anemia, low platelet or white blood cell count)
Positive antinuclear antibody (ANA) test - a blood test that measures the presence of antibodies that attack the nucleus of cells.
No alternative diagnosis - the symptoms cannot be explained by another underlying condition.
Again, lupus is a complex and often challenging disease to diagnose and manage. However, with proper medical care and management, many people with lupus are able to lead full and productive lives. If you experience any symptoms of lupus, it is important to talk to your doctor right away. With early diagnosis and treatment, many of the symptoms of lupus can be managed effectively, and the risk of complications can be reduced. I hope this helped and, if there are any questions, please feel free to ask.