What is lupus disease? This is a question that many doctors, researchers, scientists and not in the least patients, have tried to answer for decades. Unfortunately, there is still no clear answer to the question. There have been significant advances in medical science to help diagnose the disease and develop treatment, but nobody truly understands what the condition actually is. Furthermore, while it is known that hormonal, environmental, and hereditary factors all play a part in the development of the autoimmune disorder, their relationship is still not understood.
Understanding What Lupus Disease Is:
While there is still no real answer as to what the disease actually is, there are a couple of facts that are already known. These include:
– 1.5 million people in this country, and 5 million people across the globe, are affected by lupus.
– 90% of lupus patients are female, aged between 15 and 45 (the childbearing years).
– The condition can happen in all ages and all gender.
– Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disorder. This means that the immune system malfunctions during regular flareups. Between flareups, patients go into remission, when they don't experience any symptoms.
– Lupus is very hard to diagnose, mainly because its symptoms mimic those of other conditions.
– Most people suffer from lupus for many years, if not for life.
What Is Lupus Disease and It's Relation to the Immune System?
In a regular person of good health, the immune system is responsible for protecting the body by fighting off any foreign invaders. These include such things as viruses and bacteria. These are recognized by the white blood cells, which start to secrete different protein antibodies in an effort to destroy these foreign bodies. Essentially, the immune system is the body's internal protection mechanism.
In a person with lupus disease, however, the immune system mistakenly considers certain healthy tissues are foreign invaders and starts to attack them by releasing auto-antibodies. In other words, rather than protecting the body, it turns on itself, attacking its own tissues and cells. As a result, patients experience tissue damage, pain, and inflammation. In severe cases, lupus can be fatal.
Most commonly, people are affected by lupus in the brain, heart, lungs, and kidneys, although other internal organs can also be affected. Men and women usually experience swollen joints, extreme fatigue, butterfly and discoid rashes, fever, and nephritis of the kidneys. However, other symptoms can also be experienced.
When people speak of lupus as a condition, they usually mean systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE. However, lupus can also take on other forms, which include:
– Skin lupus
– Discoid lupus
– Neonatal lupus
– Drug induced lupus
The treatment of lupus is very difficult, not in the least because the drugs that are offered usually come with significant side effects. For many people, the best type of treatment is to find ways to reduce the occurrence of flareups, with some medication such as anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the pain and inflammation when a flareup does occur. It is also hoped that there will soon be some better answers to what the condition is and how it can be treated.