Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease or autoimmune diseases. It is caused by the immune system that attacks cells, tissues, and organs. This disease can attack various parts of the body and organs such as skin, joints, blood cells, kidneys, lungs, heart, brain, and spinal cord.
In normal condition, the immune system will protect the body from infection. On the other hand, lupus does the opposite. It triggers the autoimmune system to attack healthy tissue instead.
There are four types of this disease and each type can be identified by the unique form of skin rashes.
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). SLE is the most commonly reported form of lupus. It is affecting systematically in different organs around the body such as veins, lungs, or digestive system.
- Drug-Induced Lupus. This type is caused by drugs used to treat a particular disease. It is only temporary and symptoms go away after six months.
- Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (CLE). CLE is a form of lupus that only affects the skin.
- Neonatal Lupus Erythematosus. This type is a rare condition that affects unborn infants, even if the mother may not have lupus herself.
Most researchers agree that lupus is caused by a combination of genetics, lifestyle choices, and hormonal. The following are some factors that trigger this condition:
There is a relationship between genetic factors and lupus because it is often found that the patient’s family members are also patients with lupus.
Nine out of ten sufferers are women. Women produce more hormone estrogen than men that trigger this disease. Hormonal changes during puberty or high levels of estrogen during pregnancy can also lead to it.
Various kinds of environmental factors that lead to this disease include bacterial and virus infections, stress, sun exposure (ultraviolet), smoking, and some chemicals such as mercury and silica.
The symptom is various because it depends on which organs are affected. Although the symptoms vary, there are three main symptoms that generally always appear:
- Extreme fatigue
- Rash on the skin
- Pain in the joints
There are other symptoms that can appear beside the main symptoms above. Not all of these symptoms will be experienced by the patient. Here are the other symptoms:
- Thrush continuously
- Low-grade fever
- Migraine and headache
- Hair loss
- Dry eyes and sensitivity to light
- Chest pain and shortness of breath
- Memory loss
- The fingers of the hands and feet are white or blue if exposed to cold or because of stress (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
- Retention and accumulation of body fluids that lead to the swelling ankle
Lupus cannot be cured, but there is a series of active phases and a calming phase. The goal of the treatment is to reduce the severity of the symptoms, prevent organ damage, and minimize the impact on the patient’s life. The type of medicine and dose administered to a lupus patient is not the same with other patients. It is depending on the symptoms and severity. The following are the medicines :
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are used to reduce discomfort and inflammation in the joints, muscles, and other organs affected by lupus. However, the patient should be aware of the effect such as stomach pains, headaches, ulcers, irregular heartbeat, hypertension, and deteriorating kidney function.
Corticosteroids reduce the inflammation quickly and effectively. This type of medication can be given if lupus attacks your heart, lungs, kidneys, brain or blood vessels.
It treats lupus by preventing the immune system cells from dividing. The most common drugs used in this type of treatment are azathioprine (Imuran), mycophenolate (Cellcept), and cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune, and Gengraf).
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Anti-Malarial Drugs or Hydroxychloroquine
It is not only used to treat malaria but also effective to treat some of the main symptoms of lupus such as joint and muscle pain, fatigue, and rash on the skin.
If other medicines are not effective, the doctors will recommend rituximab. The rituximab works are by targeting and killing B cells, the cells producing antibodies that trigger SLE symptoms. The effects of this medicine include dizziness, vomiting, and flu-like symptoms, such as fever and chills.