Like Lyme Disease, lupus has been getting an increasing amount of press lately, mostly due to Selena Gomez’s diagnosis. With the singer having to cancel her world tour last year because of the condition, then taking some time out from public life to deal with its side effects, what actually *is* lupus?
Well, it’s an illness of the immune system that currently (and sadly) can’t be cured, putting all of the sufferer’s major organs at risk of damage. It’s caused when your immune system produces too many antibodies, meaning your white blood cells won’t just get rid of infection as they are designed to do, but will also attack your organs.
Sounds scary, right? But – in most cases – lupus can be kept under control. Read on for more info on symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of the autoimmune disease.
What are the symptoms of lupus?
Most people with lupus will experience extreme tiredness that seems impossible to shift with rest, as well as joint and muscle pain. Additional symptoms can vary dramatically from person to person, because some forms of lupus are very mild, while others are life-threatening. These include headaches, rashes, mouth ulcers, hair loss, anaemia and even depression.
How is it diagnosed?
Lupus diagnosis isn’t easy, as it can often be mistaken for other conditions, due to its wide-ranging symptoms. Blood tests can confirm a lupus diagnosis.
Is lupus contagious?
Nope, lupus isn’t contagious, though your genes seem to play a factor in whether or not you get lupus and how severe it is. Lupus is more common in women than in men and a family history of autoimmune conditions (like arthritis, MS and diabetes) could make you more likely to suffer from it.
How do you treat lupus?
While there is currently no cure for lupus, there are medications available to manage the disease, with exact treatment varying from patient to patient. Anti-inflammatories are often prescribed and sufferers should make sure they get plenty of rest and take time out when necessary – as Selena did.
Where can I find out more information on lupus?
Lupus UK has lots of info and October is always Lupus Awareness Month in the UK, where you can get involved in sponsored walks, lunches and even just representing by wearing the colour purple. If you think you might be suffering from lupus, make sure you seek medical advice from your GP.
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