The Lupus Foundation of America estimates about 1.5 million Americans have some form of lupus. (2) A 2020 study by NYU Langone Health in New York City reported about 200,000 Americans were affected by SLE, the most common form of the disease. (1) At its core, lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that targets healthy tissue causing it to attack the body’s immune system. The disease primarily affects the skin, joints, and internal organs.
Types of Lupus
Changes in your daily diet can be an essential part of staying healthy. The definition of healthy eating may change as you age, however these general rules are a good start for picking the right foods for you: (4)
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is the most common form of lupus. Unlike other variants, SLE can cause inflammation of multiple organs or organ systems throughout the body. (2)
- Cutaneous Lupus effects approximately two-thirds of people effected by the disease. This variant is limited to the skin, resulting in rashes or sores (lesions) on sun-exposed areas such as the arms, legs, and face.
- Drug-Induce Lupus is a lupus-like disease caused by an overreaction to prescription drugs such as hydralazine, procainamide, and isoniazid. Symptoms often mirror those of SLE; however, they dissipate once use of these medications stops. (3)
- Neonatal Lupus is a rare condition that effects infants of mothers with lupus. These infants may present with liver problems, skin rashes, or low blood cell counts; but after six months, these symptoms disappear with no lasting effects. (2)
Those at Risk
Although lupus can affect people of all ages, certain groups are at a higher risk than others:
- Women ages 15-44
- Individuals of African American, Asian, or Native American descent (3)
- Men and Women who have an immediate family member with the disease (4)
Know the Main Symptoms
Common symptoms of lupus include extreme fatigue, pain or swelling in joints, skin rashes, and fevers. Each person experiences the severity of these symptoms differently. For instance, you may develop skin rashes while someone else may have a fever.
Lupus is a disease of flares and remissions, meaning that an individual won’t experience all of the symptoms all the time and they are usually intermittent.
Getting a Proper Diagnosis
The symptoms of lupus can vary greatly from individual to individual, both in severity and longevity, making it difficult to diagnose by either a physician or a patient. Moreover, there is no single test to conclusively diagnose lupus.
A combination of symptom assessments, physical examinations, x-rays, and lab tests from a health care provider are the most efficient way to start the diagnosis process. For a firm diagnosis, it is recommended you consult a rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in diseases of joints and muscles such as lupus).
Thanks to improved treatments and advancements in medicine, most individuals with lupus can expect to live long, healthy lives. As with many autoimmune diseases, there is no cure for lupus; however, treatments from a rheumatologist can help alleviate symptoms and improve your overall health.
Between chronic pain and extreme fatigue, adapting to the changes associated with lupus can be difficult without a support group. Assistance in Home Care understands the hardships one goes through as they adapt to a new lifestyle. Our in-home caregivers are trained in providing the support necessary to ensure you successfully adapt to your new lifestyle as simply and pain-free as possible. For more information and resources on lupus, the Lupus Foundation of America and the Lupus Research Alliance both have valuable information on their websites.
- NYU Langone Health: https://nyulangone.org/news/study-pins-down-number-americans-most-common-form-lupus
- The Lupus Foundation of America: https://www.lupus.org/resources/lupus-facts-and-statistics
- Lupus Research Alliance: https://www.lupusresearch.org/understanding-lupus/what-is-lupus/about-lupus/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/lupus/features/lupus-awareness/index.htm