How to identify Lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease. When the immune system becomes hyperactive the immune system starts attacking body parts itself causing inflammation and destruction of tissue. Autoimmune diseases are characterised by periodic flare ups and remissions. What is usually called lupus is medically known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. As the name indicates it can affect any of the body systems and organs in them and it is the most virulent of all. Lupus affects each person in a unique way. Luckily all symptoms are not manifested by every patient; while some gets certain symptoms, the others end up getting the rest. Lupus starts innocuously, in the age group of 18 to 30 years, and looks like a myriad of common diseases.

It is important to identify it at the earliest as it is easy to manage and control it. The prognosis improves vastly and one can expect to live an active life to the full span.

An important and early feature is spells of fatigue which flares up and remits periodically. If one experiences, frequently, such spells of fatigue one should contact his doctor and the appropriate treatment sought. It has a low-grade fever of 98.5 to 101 degree F which frequently comes and goes with no discernible cause. During this stage, it throws up a characteristic butterfly shaped non-itching skin eruption across the ridge of the nose spreading over both the cheeks. Such eruptions appear on other parts of the body also. Generally, patients are photosensitive to both sun and artificial. Such eruptions generally appear prior to flare ups. As the disease progresses, the hair becomes thin, rough, brittle, breaks and falls off. Hair all over the body can get affected. The hair acquires a unique appearance and is called lupus hair. Hair regrows as treatment progresses except in places where lesions have formed.

As the disease progresses it could also attack the vital organs like lung, digestive system, kidneys, bones etc. Inflammation of the lungs causes destruction of the lung tissue as well as the blood vessels. The lungs start to reduce in size. The diaphragm moves up into the thoracic cavity and the body gradually suffers oxygen deficiency. This is called vanishing lung syndrome. All these makes breathing very painful. These pains are referred to pleuritic pains. As the disease progresses more rigorous treatments are resorted to all of which has side effects of varying seriousness. A risk benefit analysis done in selecting the treatment.

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