Rheumatology

Lupus

DESCRIPTION:

Lupus is a serious inflammatory condition where the body’s immune system begins attacking the body’s organs and tissues. It can affect many areas of the body that include skin, joints, heart, blood cells, lungs and brain. The diagnosis of lupus is hard to achieve as it contains similar symptoms as many other arthritis diseases, but one widely known distinct sign of lupus is a facial rash resembling wings of a butterfly that unfolds on both the cheeks.

Causes and symptoms of Lupus

There could be many risk factors that results in lupus ranging from hormonal, genetic and environmental. Use of certain drugs, exposure to ultraviolet rays, illness, infection, injury, emotional stress, age, family history, etc. are some risk factors that increase the chances of developing lupus. The main reason behind this condition is the abnormal functionality of the immune system.

Signs of symptoms of lupus vary from patient to patient and it is hard to recognize the symptoms at the start. It progresses gradually and can become mild to severe. These symptoms include:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Fever
  • Butterfly shaped rashes on face covering the cheeks and nose
  • Photosensitivity
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon Dry eyes
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion and memory loss
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fingers turning blue on exposure to cold

Diagnosing Lupus

Diagnosis of lupus is quite difficult as the symptoms may vary from person to person and changes over time. Therefore, in order to diagnose the condition, doctors perform a combination of tests to find out the exact cause. These tests include:

  • Physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • CBC
  • Assessment of liver and kidneys
  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test
  • Chest X-ray
  • ECG or Echocardiogram
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate

Treatment of Lupus

There is no cure for lupus, but measures can be taken to prevent it from advancing and providing relief from chronic symptoms. Based on the results of diagnostic tests, the doctor can determine what treatment to be given to the patient. Mediations are considered the first and most commonly used method where proper dosage to control the symptoms of lupus is given. Below are mentioned some of those medications that are commonly used for treating lupus:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID): These medicines are highly effective in treating pain, swelling and fever that comes with lupus. Doctors recommend giving a stronger dose of these medicines at start to cease the advancement of the condition. Some commonly used NSAIDs are naproxen sodium (Aleve), Motrin IB, ibuprofen, etc.
  • Antimalarial drugs: These medications are used to cure malaria and other viral diseases and control the development of lupus. Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) is most commonly used antimalarial drug.
  • Corticosteroids: Prednisone is an corticosteroids known as anti-inflammatory drugs that provides relief from weight gain, thinning of bones, inflammation, infection, high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Immunosuppressants: The main aim of treating lupus is to restrain the ability of the immune system that is affecting the body organs. With immunosuppressants the damage done to body tissues and organs can be limited though immunosuppressants have their own side effects

Complications

Any treatment involving heavy dosage of drugs also includes some sort of mild or serious complications. Lupus treatment also contains some side effects as it is largely depends on the medications. Most common complications are as follows:

  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Stomach bleeding
  • Heart related problems
  • Upset stomach
  • Damage to the retina
  • Infection
  • Infertility
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Headache

Care

Lupus treatment requires a long term care of the body. You will need to take proper measures in order to prevent lupus flares.

See your doctor regularly instead of only going when your symptoms worsens. Follow the guidelines given by your physician involving diet, stress and exercise. It will help ease off complications.

Take adequate amount of test in order to feel less fatigue and tiredness. Get enough sleep at night and take short naps during the day as required.

Avoid spending too much time in sunlight. Wear hat, long sleeved shirts and pants and apply sunscreen when you go outside.

Quit smoking as it can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, damage blood and heart vessels and triggers lupus symptoms to come back.

Perform regular exercise to keep yourself healthy and fit followed by a healthy diet involving fruits and vegetables that controls your blood pressure and gastrointestinal issues.