Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, whereby the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. This leads to swelling, inflammation, and damage to the lungs, heart, blood, kidneys, skin, and joints. The immune system of lupus patients has the abnormal characteristic of not being able to tell the difference between healthy tissue and antigens. This can affect any part of the body, including the brain and other internal organs. Let us take a look at the lupus causes and diagnosis.
Lupus Causes and Diagnosis:
The exact causes of lupus are poorly understood. However, it is believed that both internal and external factors are responsible. These include:
1. Hormones, mainly because 90% of lupus causes and diagnosis happen in women. It is believed that estrogen may be a contributing factor, as flareups are common just before a menstrual period or when they are pregnant, when estrogen levels rise. However, women who take estrogen medication do not see an increase in the activity of this particular disease.
2. Genetics, although scientists have not identified a responsible gene. However, lupus does run in families, and some minor genetic associations have been identified. In identical twins, there is a 25% chance of a twin developing it if the other twin has it. This percentage drops to just 2.5% in fraternal twins. In siblings, the chance of developing it is 20 times higher if one sibling has it. Additionally, it is more common in those who are of Pacific Island, Native Hawaiian, Native American, Hispanic, Asian, or African descent.
3. Biomarkers, which include C-reactive protein, urine proteins, and anti-double-stranded DNA antibodies and complement C3a.
4. The environment, which includes viruses and chemicals. Lupus is more common in women who have been exposed to UVB rays, fluorescent light bulb UV rays, silica dust, sulfa drugs, Minocin (minecycline), Amoxial (amoxicillin), Cloxapen (cloxacillin), or Ampicillin Sodium ADD-Vantage (Ampicillin), Epstein-Barr virus infections, viral infections including the cold, injury, exhaustion, emotional stress, smoking, and physical stress.
Diagnosing lupus is often difficult, and requires excellent communication and a knowledgeable physician. Doctors will usually take a patient's medical history, conduct a physical examination, and request various lab tests. Generally, identifying the presence of auto-antibodies is the best way to to diagnose it, particularly by looking for an antinuclear antibody (ANA), which is present in 98% of lupus cases.
Additionally, physicians will usually test the blood for the presence of the following antibodies:
– Anti-double-stranded DNA
A number of other tests can also be requested by physicians. However, there is no single test that can 100% confirm whether or not lupus is present, as it can also be indicative of other conditions. That being said, the gold standard tends to be a diagnosis provided by a rheumatologist. In fact, the American College of Rheumatology, or ACR, has created a standard classification that has 11 criteria for research definition. Patients who have four of those 11 criteria can be diagnosed as having lupus. It should be noted that while effective, there is a chance that this system will miss those people who are in early stage or have mild lupus.