(CMR) Lupus is an unpredictable and misunderstood autoimmune disease that is difficult to diagnose, hard to live with, and a challenge to treat.
May is celebrated as Lupus Awareness Month, and this year organizations have been aiming to get more people to know about the disease. Here are some facts provided by lupus.org to help you better understand the disease.
Lupus is not contagious. You cannot “catch” lupus from someone or “give” lupus to someone.
Lupus is not like or related to HIV (Human Immune Deficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). In HIV or AIDS, the immune system is underactive; in lupus, the immune system is overactive.
Lupus is not like or related to cancer. Cancer is a condition of malignant, abnormal tissues that grow rapidly and spread into surrounding tissue.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease. In some ways, lupus represents a kind of allergic reaction by the body, in which the immune system sees the body's own healthy tissues and cells as foreign.
Lupus is a chronic disease, meaning anyone who develops lupus will have lupus for the rest of their life.
According to lupus.org, the most common lupus symptoms (which are the same for men and women) are:
-Extreme fatigue (feeling tired all the time)
Many people with lupus experience fatigue or feeling tired throughout the day. For some people, fatigue can make it hard to do everyday activities like taking a shower, cooking dinner, or working.
-Pain or swelling in the joints
Lupus can cause joint pain (arthralgia) and inflammation in and around the joints, resulting in problems like arthritis, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Joint problems related to lupus usually don't cause long-term damage.
-Swelling in the hands, feet, or around the eyes
Many people with lupus sometimes have confusion, memory loss, and trouble expressing thoughts. The medical term is cognitive dysfunction, and these symptoms can come and go. Lupus brain fog can be frustrating, but you can learn to live with your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
-Sensitivity to sunlight or fluorescent light
Photosensitivity describes sensitivity to the ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight and other light sources, such as indoor fluorescent light. Photosensitivity can cause rashes, fever, fatigue, joint pain, and other symptoms in people with cutaneous (skin) and systemic lupus. Excess exposure to UV rays is a common trigger for increased disease activity (flare) of both cutaneous lupus and systemic lupus
-Chest pain when breathing deeply
Inflammation caused by lupus may affect the lungs in many ways and can involve the membrane lining of the lungs, the lungs themselves, the blood vessels within the lungs, and the diaphragm.
Many people with lupus also have problems that affect their skin and hair, like:
-A butterfly-shaped rash on the cheeks and nose
-Sores in the mouth or nose
-Fingers and toes turning white or blue and feeling numb when a person is cold or stressed (Raynaud's Disease)
Lupus shares a lot of symptoms with other diseases, like arthritis and diabetes. So if you have these common lupus symptoms, it's important to talk to your doctor and find out whether you have lupus or a different health problem. That way, you can get the treatment you need.