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Lupus: The Basics

 

Antibodies in Overdrive.

While it may sound like a new reality show on the Fox Network, it’s really an accurate description of what happens to your body if you have lupus.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease.  This means that your antibodies – the very substances that protect you from 

diseases and other foreign invades, are turning on your system and attacking various areas of your body – including your vital organs. Your immune system is, in fact, in a state of hyperdrive, pumping out antibodies needlessly.

As with so many other diseases, medical experts are in the dark about the exact cause of Lupus.  It is genetic, which means if one person in your family has it, your chances of developing it are greater.

The name itself derives from one the original and most notable symptoms of the disease a rash that appears usually on the face of an individual with the disease.  The rash looked like a wolf bite.  Today, the rash reminds people more of a butterfly.

Technically, lupus is not a disease, but a series of disorders.  And this is exactly what makes diagnosing the disorder so difficulty.  Many of the symptoms can be easily misdiagnosed for another disease or even ignored altogether.

Approximately 1.5 million American suffer with some form and varying severity of this disorder.  But here, though, is the most stunning of news: the incidence of lupus has tripled since 1970.

If you’re a woman, you’re more likely to develop lupus than a man.  For every 10 individuals who develop this disorder, only one of them is male.  The other nine are female. And you’re especially vulnerable if you’re a woman of childbearing years – between the ages of 15 and 40.  (This is one of the reasons why some medical experts suspect that the onset of lupus is related to a woman’s hormone levels.)

Lupus, for all of its potential problems, has a lingering bad “rap” from nearly a generation ago.  As recently as 30 years ago, medical experts couldn’t detect the disorder early enough. By the time the medical experts knew what was happening, all too often, advanced kidney disease had set in.  today, things have changed greatly.  Not only does modern medicine has the resources to detect this disorder much earlier, but it now can control this group of problems with greater ease. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of deaths attributed to this disorder has climbed from 879 in 1979 to 1, 406 in 1998. Not only that, but nearly one third of these deaths occurred in men and women who were younger than 45 years of age.

Three main kinds of lupus are currently identified by specialists.  The first is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).  This is the most common and, in fact, the most serious form of the disorder.  SLE frequently is the cause of painful, swollen joints as well as skin rashes, extreme fatigue and kidney damage.  The other two forms of the disorder are discoid lupus erythematosus and drug-induced lupus.

 

 

 





Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.

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Greg Cryns
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