What is Lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can cause a wide range of symptoms, affecting the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, lungs and other parts of the body. It's estimated that around 1.5 million people in the United States have lupus.
The exact cause of lupus is unknown but experts believe it is likely to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Symptoms can vary from person to person and tend to come on suddenly or intermittently. Common symptoms include fatigue, joint pain and swelling, skin rashes and lesions, fever, chest pain and sensitivity to light. Depending on which organs are affected by the condition there may also be difficulty breathing or swallowing due to inflammation in those areas.
Chronic lupus known as cutaneous lupus or skin lupus can cause irritating rashes and round disc shaped sores on the face and scalp. Untreated it can cause further problems such as hair loss, scarring and skin discoloration. Some types of cutaneous lupus can develop into skin cancer.
There is no cure for lupus, but it can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. Treatment options vary depending on the individual's symptoms and may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, immunosuppressant drugs or antimalarial medications. Diet and exercise are also important for symptom management as well as reducing stress levels which can worsen the condition.
Living with lupus isn't easy, but there is hope. Many people find support in patient organizations and online communities that can help them cope with their diagnosis. Research into better treatments is ongoing, and scientists are working hard to understand more about the condition so they can improve outcomes for those living with lupus. With proper treatment and support, people with lupus can lead full and active lives.
Ultimately, it is important for anyone with lupus to develop a care plan that works for them. With the right treatment, support network and lifestyle changes, living with lupus doesn't have to be an obstacle. By learning more about the condition, seeking help when needed and being proactive in their treatment plans, those affected by lupus can take control of their lives and find hope where they may not have seen it before.