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Calendar >  Healthy Community Healthy You -Lupus – Your Immune System Turned On You

Healthy Community Healthy You -Lupus – Your Immune System Turned On You

By   /  December 4, 2021  /  No Comments

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Megan Johnson McCullough–Chronic fatigue, joint pain, and sometimes rash, are symptoms associated with the autoimmune disorder called lupus. The immune system has started to attack its very own tissues, which leads to inflammation, pain, and swelling. The immune system is supposed to take care of the body, but that is not the case with lupus. The Lupus Foundation of America reported that 1.5 million Americans suffer from this condition. Of these people, nearly 90% are women, and 1 in 250 people can develop lupus. Persons of African, Asian, and Native American decent are more at risk.  

The primary symptoms of this condition are as follows:  

  1. Prolonged fatigue 
  2. Swollen joints (i.e. arthritis) 
  3. Skin rash 
  4. Achy joints (arthralgia) 
  5. Hair loss  
  6. Sensitivity to sun exposure 
  7. Mouth or nose sores 
  8. Skin rash 

At first a person might complain of being extremely tired, losing weight, and an overwhelming feeling of fatigue. Arthritis is very common in people with lupus. This is marked by stiffness and pain in the joints. Skin problems are also common, and some people develop a rash over the bridge of their nose and cheeks called a “butterfly” or molar rash. Skin becomes very sensitive, especially to sunlight. Discoid lupus is a type of lupus that only affects the skin. Hair loss and mouth sores occur too. Kidney problems occur in about 50% of people with this condition. People with lupus also have low red and blood cell counts. This causes fatigue and a person can easily bruise. Blood clots are also common.  

The cause of lupus, as with other autoimmune conditions, remains unknown. Genetics may play a part and because females are more at risk, hormones may be a culprit. Lupus is usually diagnosed when testing comes back with abnormalities and the person is showing several signs of symptoms. An official diagnosis is when a person has at least 4 of the following 11 symptoms: photosensitivity, molar rash, discoid rash, kidney disorder, arthritis, oral ulcers, neurological disorders, blood disorder, inflammation, abnormal blood work, or an immunologic disorder. An antinuclear antibody test (ANA) can be performed on a blood sample; however, a positive test is not completely indicative of lupus. If a person had a positive ANA test and 3 symptoms, then a better diagnosis is made.  

Working with a rheumatologist is advisable when treating this condition. Steroid creams can be used for the rashes. The list of other medications includes Plaquenil, Rhematrex, Imuran, Cytoxan, Cellcept, Benlysta, and Rituxan. Rest, low intensity exercise, keeping sun exposure minimal, and avoiding smoking and alcohol, are proactive lifestyle changes to always keep in mind. Lupus can be manageable and getting to know the symptoms and triggers is an important measure to be proactive for your self-care.  

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