What is Lupus?

louisiana pain specialist neil jolly what is lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system attacks healthy cells and tissue in your body. Normal immune systems don’t attack healthy cells; they attack foreign things that shouldn’t be there.

Lupus can cause damage to several parts of your body, including:

  • Skin
  • Kidneys
  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Blood vessels
  • Brain
  • Joints

There are several different kinds of lupus. Systemic lupus erythematosus is the most prevalent type and impacts multiple body parts. Other forms of lupus include:

  • Discoid lupus erythematosus—causes a permanent skin rash
  • Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus— when skin sores form on parts of the body that are in the sun
  • Drug-induced lupus—medications can prompt this form of lupus
  • Neonatal lupus—a rare type of lupus that infects newborns.

What causes lupus?

Researchers have not determined a cause for lupus. So far, research might show that genetics are a key factor, but they are not the only factor. Scientists believe that lupus is caused by many variables.

What are the symptoms of lupus?

Symptoms of lupus vary from patient to patient. Every lupus case is different. Common symptoms of lupus include:

  • Pain or swelling in joints
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever for unknown reasons
  • Red rashes, most often on the face
  • Chest pain when breathing deeply
  • Hair loss – sometimes permanent
  • Discoloration in your fingers or toes
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Swollen legs or eyes
  • Ulcers in your mouth
  • Gland swelling
  • Extreme Fatigue.

Other symptoms that are less frequent are:

  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Seizures.

Symptoms could come and go at any given time. When a person is showing symptoms, they are called flares. The flares can range in intensity. Some are mild, while others are very serious.

How do doctors diagnose lupus?

There is no one test for lupus. It can take months – sometimes years – for a doctor to make that diagnosis. There are several things doctors use to try to diagnose lupus. These include:

  • Medical history
  • Complete physical exam
  • Blood samples
  • Biopsy of your skin
  • Kidney biopsy

How is lupus treated?

Sometimes, you need a specialty physician to treat the multitude of symptoms you can exhibit if you suffer from lupus. Often, you’ll need more than one doctor working to come up with a plan. These doctors could include:

  • A family physician
  • Rheumatologists
  • Clinical immunologists for your immune system
  • Nephrologists for your kidneys
  • Hematologists for your blood
  • Dermatologists for your skin
  • Neurologists for your nervous system
  • Cardiologists for your heart and blood vessels
  • Endocrinologists for your glands and hormones
  • Nurses
  • Psychologists for the depression

Because each case of lupus is different, your team of doctors will develop a plan that’s specific to your symptoms and limits. This plan should be revisited often, as the symptoms for lupus patients evolve over time.

If you or someone you know is showing signs of lupus, contact Louisiana Pain Specialists today for help.

 

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