The immune system keeps the body naturally protected from diseases and their causal agents such as bacteria. For example, an allergic reaction is a way in which the body responds to foreign agents. The immune system is comprised of complex networks or tissues, organs and systems, the blood and lymph nodes being the most notable.
Sometimes, the immune system mistakes some normal body cells, organs or processes for foreign agents that need to be gotten rid of. When this happens, an autoimmune disease or condition is developed.
What causes lupus in women and men?
So what causes lupus? The above description for autoimmune diseases applies in the case of lupus. A combination of factors rather than a single identifiable agent are thought to cause the disease. They include:
- Viruses – although other non-viral infections can also encourage lupus flare-up of remission, viruses are most notorious in these regards.
- Some drugs – drugs used to control seizures, blood pressure and bacterial infections are known to trigger the disease.
- UV rays – being exposed to sun for long hours encourages the skin disorders caused by lupus. It can also trigger the disease in people who are already predisposed.
- Hormonal changes – the fact that 90% of lupus cases are reported in women drives professionals to relate the disease to hormonal changes, much like it is in the case of skin tags, especially related to the hormone estrogen.
- Genetic predisposition – although the chances of lupus being exclusively caused by genetic predisposition are minimal, it has been identified as a likely trigger. For example, people of Asian, African and native American ethnicities are more likely to be predisposed than Caucasians.
Symptoms and signs of lupus in adults and children
Signs of lupus differ from person to person. Generally, the affected organs or body parts will swell. Bumps on skin are the initial symptoms. Symptoms in children are usually mild, which become more serious with time. They are characterized by flare-ups and recurrent outbreaks.
Below are the common signs of lupus. Note that most of them can also be signs of other conditions and having them will not necessarily indicate lupus.
Almost every lupus patient will experience general and intense fatigue which goes on chronically.
The tell-tale characteristic of the rash resulting from lupus is the formation of a patch shaped like a butterfly on the area by the cheekbones to the bridge of the nose. The rash can also appear on other body parts. It is not itchy.
Pain and swelling in the joints
Commonly referred to as arthralgia, it is a condition that causes a lot of pain, especially in the most active joints. Swelling of the joints or arthritis is also common. Another related sign is accumulated fluid in the ankles, which also results in painful swelling.
When inhaling and exhaling, a sharp and discomforting pain is felt in the chest. This is even in the absence of factors that may predispose to such a condition, like smoking or a cold.
Loss of hair
Inflamed skin on the scalp causes the hair to weaken and become easily breakable. Signs in adults also include problems in beards and even in the pubic hair. It is a very common symptom and perhaps the initial one to manifest.
Some people will develop a couple of oral disorders such as dry mouth or even canker sores. Dry eyes and a dry vagina can also be signs in adults.
Any of the organs such as the kidneys, lungs and skin may inflame during a lupus flare-up or resurgence. This is felt as difficulties in breathing, accumulation of toxins in the body and brittle small hairs on the skin.
Fever is a common symptom of many health conditions. In the case of lupus, the actual cause of the fever is difficult to identify. Patients experience fluctuating body temperatures averaging at 100F.
During a recurrence, lupus patients experience an increased sensitivity to most sources of light, both natural and artificial. This can be followed by occurrence of oral sores.
Other signs include; paleness in fingers, gastric discomforts, anemia, stress, swollen lymph nodes, thyroid malfunctions, skin tag on anus and others.
Since the early symptoms of lupus are easy to ignore, it is best that you be in the lookout for times that more than two of the above described ones occur at the same time or repeatedly. In such cases, medical attention should be consulted.
Lupus diagnosis and diagnosis criteria
Lupus is sometimes progressive. In fact, some people can develop it over the course of years while others will experience symptoms in the form of failure and malfunctions of different body organs such as the kidneys and joints.
Anyone can develop the disease. Statistics show that about 10 in 2,500 will develop the disease. Of the 10, 9 will be women between the ages of 15 and 45 years.
Lupus diagnosis is done on the basis of the number of diagnosis criteria that a patient shows. If four or more diagnosis criteria are identified, treatment options will be suggested by a doctor. Below are the main diagnosis criteria that are looked into:
- Rash shaped like a butterfly on cheekbones. A scaly rash can also occur on other body parts.
- seizures and other malfunctions of the neurosystem
- over-sensitivity to light
- organ disorders (mainly inflamed kidney, skin, lungs)
- arthritis or paining joints
- sores on or in the mouth
- malfunctioning immune system
- Testing positive to ANA test
Lupus treatment options and guidelines
You find that lupus is very unpredictable. For this reason, close monitoring by a doctor and professional treatment guidelines are necessary. All the same, the condition is better managed when it is noticed early. It is also good to keep encouraging and supporting a lupus patient to manage or live with the condition.
The following treatment options can be used in treating or relieving the symptoms of lupus:
Fever and other painful symptoms can be managed using pain killing medications and drugs such as aspirin. Most are available over the counter while others may need a bit of prescription. In fact, best ringworm treatment and such may be needed to ease the complications that occur when a lupus outbreak combines with other health conditions.
Like pain killers, these drugs are meant to reduce the early symptoms. Ibuprofen is a good example. High doses should be prescribed in a hospital. Inflammations can range from simple lesions resembling razor bumps to serious inflammatory of vital organs.
When taken, these medications mimic natural steroids. If you remember, we identified hormonal changes as one of lupus triggers.
An excessively immune system attacking healthy body cells and organs can be managed with immune regulating drugs. They are used as an option to high doses of steroids or in people who cannot stand them.
Some signs of lupus such as fatigue and painful muscles can be treated with anti-malarial drugs. Hydroxychloroquine is a good example.
Benlysta and related drugs
Benlysta falls in the family of drugs known as monoclonal antibodies. In fact, the drug is the sole one which is primarily developed for lupus treatment.
Blood clotting medications
With people suffering from chronic lupus, anticoagulating drugs can be used to prevent from fatal thinning or clotting of the blood. Since a combination of drugs is used to this end, a doctor should be consulted prior to such treatment.
Injections containing a synthetic ACTH hormone can be administered to encourage the body to produce natural hormones.
Chemotherapy can be used as a lupus treatment option.
Lupus treatment; finding the best treatment centers
Since lupus is a progressive condition, finding the best treatment centers is a key to successfully treating the condition.
First, it is for the best if the condition can be treated by a dermatologist who is an expert in dealing with diseases of the muscles or the joints.
If pregnant or trying to get pregnant, you are advised to check with an obstetrician. This is very important, especially if other complications such as vaginal warts are involved.
Lupus can be classified as a skin condition, a category that includes toenail fungus or even penis skin tag. However, there is too much that goes into its causes and treatment options that such a comparison does little justice.
Since there are a couple of treatment options available, including over the counter options, it will be for the best that all that goes into treating lupus be understood before trying a particular treatment option. A doctor should always be consulted.
In a hospital, a doctor will consider a couple of factors to develop the best treatment guidelines. Such factors include general health conditions and age. Patients will also be advised on the best lifestyles to adopt and how to maintain a healthy immune system.
As it is evident in treatment and diagnosis stories, supplementing therapies are really helpful as long as treating lupus is concerned. Such therapies focus on with long term symptoms seen in lupus patients. They also include helping lupus patients recover or manage the condition effectively.