Everything You Should Know About Lupus

Lupus is a chronic disease in which the immune system attacks healthy cells. Therefore, it can affect multiple organs.

There are countless diseases, some much more worrisome than others and, consequently, more recognized, dangerous and with elaborate symptomatological pictures. However, others are less well known and there is not as much research, information or therapies. An example of this is lupus.

Next, we will not only see what lupus is but how it acts on the immune system, what are its varieties and its most common symptoms. Take note!

What is lupus?

Woman with lupus

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

On the other hand, it is rare and, in turn, unpredictable since it affects the immune system. That is, it attacks and affects the cells of this system. It destroys the body’s defenses that are unable to cope with bacteria and other pathogens.

The immune system

To understand how this disease works, it is necessary, first, to understand what the immune system is. For this reason, below, we will tell you what is its importance for the body.

  • It is the body’s natural defense against infection, as the Arthritis Foundation explains .
  • It is made up of soluble molecules and cells located in different tissues and organs.
  • It fulfills the main function of protecting the entire body from foreign elements.
  • Among these elements, bacteria, germs and microorganisms stand out.

In short, the immune system is a set of functions responsible for protecting the body from disease. So what does it have to do with a disease like lupus?

Generally, the immune system fights off viruses, germs, and bacteria; however, in some cases, a failure occurs and this system designed to protect us can backfire.

When this happens, the immune system does not distinguish its own cells from attackers and, instead of fighting antigens, it fights against the cells themselves. That is to say, little by little it is attacking their cells and tissues.

Types

Types of lupus

An article titled Types of Lupus: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment and published in 2018 suggests that around 5 million people worldwide suffer from some of the different types of lupus that exist. Let’s see each of them and their characteristics below.

1. Systemic lupus erythematosus

Also known as SLE, it is the most common type. It is often simply called ‘lupus’, although it is one of its types.

  • It regularly affects the most important systems, especially organs such as the heart, brain, and kidneys.
  • His symptomatological picture is quite varied. For example, in some people it becomes extremely severe and, in others, very mild.

2. Discoid or cutaneous lupus

As its name indicates, this type of condition primarily affects the skin tissues. Because this organ covers 100% of the body, any part of it can be affected.

However, its symptoms usually occur on the face and scalp. The main ones are the appearance of red skin rashes or changes in skin tone.

3. Lupus secondary to medications

This type of condition is similar to systemic lupus; however, it is caused by the rejection of certain medications by the body. Fortunately, symptoms tend to be less severe than systemic symptoms, and stopping treatment may be enough to improve your symptoms.

4. Neonatal lupus

Although it is not a common variety, it is worth mentioning. This kind of lupus occurs when a baby acquires antibodies from a mother with systemic lupus erythematosus.

Is it possible to recognize it?

It is possible to recognize lupus

This disease is complex, not only for those who suffer from it but also for health professionals. Indeed, it is sometimes difficult to give an accurate diagnosis. Despite this, it offers some signs that help to identify it. Here are the most common ones noted by the Lupus American Foundation :

  • Anemia.
  • Joint pain.
  • Exhausted.
  • Sensitivity to the sun.
  • Hair loss.
  • Joint swelling
  • Pinkish spots on the face.
  • Thyroid gland swelling.
  • Blood clotting problems
  • Chest pain when breathing deeply.
  • Raynaud’s disease: Fingers turn white or purple when cold.

Notably, symptoms can come and go on their own (flare-ups), and can be mild or severe. Precisely, this situation makes diagnosis difficult.

The origin of lupus is still unknown

The origin of the disease is still unknown. However, there are those who consider that there are hereditary factors that influence its appearance. Therefore, those who have a family member who suffers from lupus, should keep an eye out for the appearance of symptoms.

Despite having no cure, there are many ways to treat it. To do this, if you suspect lupus (or any other disease) you have to go to a specialist.

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