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Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes damage to bodily tissues resulting in inflammation of the skin, organs, and/or joints. Lupus symptoms typically come and go in periods of flares and remissions. Types of lupus include:
An estimated 5 million people worldwide suffer from lupus, 1.5 million of those being American.
Lupus occurs when the body’s immune system becomes overactive and attacks the body’s healthy tissues, causing pain, swelling, and inflammation. The exact trigger of the immune response is unknown. Researchers and scientists believe that a combination of the following may play a role in the development of lupus:
Environmental factors including:
Genetics. Specific genes have not been linked to the lupus, however the disease can run in families and is more prevalent among certain ethnic groups (including those of African American and Hispanic/Latino descent).
Hormones. Approximately 90% of those who suffer from lupus are women. Female lupus patients also experience worsened symptoms during pregnancy and menstruation, which are conditions characterized by large fluctuations in hormones, leading researchers to suspect a potential link to female sex hormones.
The following risk factors are associated with lupus:
Coming to a lupus diagnosis can be a complicated and difficult process. Lupus often has widespread symptoms and may present itself differently in different patients, so each lupus diagnosis requires the expert of opinion of a doctor who is able to piece together a multitude of test results. There is no single, definitive test result for lupus. The following tests may be used by your doctor in order to arrive at a lupus diagnosis:
Lupus can cause a variety of symptoms. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, the following are the most common Lupus symptoms:
The prognosis for lupus varies from case to case. Recent developments in medicine and treatment technologies have made lupus an increasingly manageable disease. A 2006 study of 207 lupus patients found that survival rates for lupus are approximately as follows:
The following tips can help you manage your lupus symptoms and reduce your risk of a lupus flare-up:
Lupus is not a disease that is regularly screened for because of its wide variety of symptoms and fairly rare instance rate. If you think that you are experiencing lupus symptoms contact your doctor.
There are no known ways to prevent lupus.
There are a variety of medications and treatments available to treat lupus.
Medications commonly used to treat lupus include:
Immunomodulators, which suppress the immune system, preventing it from attacking the body’s healthy tissues. Popular immunomodulators include:
Medications to reduce inflammation and assist with pain, including:
Other treatment options your doctor may recommend include:
The following alternative treatments may be able to reduce your lupus symptoms:
Dietary restrictions. Some studies suggest that inflammatory lupus symptoms may be linked to food allergies. An elimination of inflammatory foods may help reduce symptoms. A registered dietitian will be able to construct a diet plan that is best for you.
Dietary supplements, including:
Homeopathic remedies. Homeopathic medicines consist of diluted plant extracts that work to stimulate the body to assist it in its response to disease. The following homeopathic remedies may help reduce lupus symptoms:
Herbal medicines, including:
Mind/body techniques, including:
If you feel that you are experiencing any of the symptoms of lupus, contact your doctor. . [NOTE: hyperlink to symptoms section]
If you are undergoing treatment for lupus, contact your doctor immediately if you experience:
You may want to ask your doctor the following questions:
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