Lupus is an inflammation that affects nearly 5 million people in the world, with a female predominance. Indeed it affects 9 women to 1 man. What is this disease, what are the causes and symptoms and how could they be addressed?
What is lupus?
Lupus is a Latin word meaning “wolf”. It is a chronic autoimmune disease usually caused by an imbalance of the immune system that begins to attack different organs of the body. It can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, brain, etc. Presenting various symptoms, it can upset the life of the sufferer. This is the case of Mallory Dixon, a 29 year girl who recounts her experience with this unpredictable disease.
At age 17, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, but persistent symptoms she suffered led her doctors to recommend the parents recourse to a therapist.
Having carefully studied the case and analyzed its symptoms and medical history, the doctor finally arrived to identify the disease from which she suffered: lupus. This diagnosis was 6 years after the initial diagnosis.
She said that the day before her visit to the doctor, she thought she would not survive that night. Indeed, Dixon came to the clinic in a state of clinical death before being resuscitated. She was admitted to the hospital and spent 86 days under observation. She has done several tests and has completed several treatments such as, chemotherapy, dialysis, and has also been on mechanical ventilation because she often felt into a coma. During her hospital stay, doctors found that lupus has spread in her body and reached her kidneys, causing pain that assailed her. The functioning of her kidneys began to fall.
Dixon says that if her illness was diagnosed early, it would have been possible to stop its spread and damage the vital organs. That is why she believes that people need to be educated and informed about lupus and its symptoms.
Lupus symptoms that reach both men and women:
- Chronic fatigue state
- Sun and light sensitivity
- Abnormal blood clots
- Hair loss
- Swellings and joint pain
- Nasal and mouth ulcers
- Fingers become blue or white when it’s cold
- Chest pain when deep breathing
- Swelling of the hands, feet, legs and around the eyes
- Rashes in a form of butterflies on the cheeks and nose
Many people with lupus may have looked good and be in shape while feeling deeply depressed. They may have an appearance quite normal but suffer from pain that make everyday tasks difficult.
Lupus is also called “the great imitator”. It copies the symptoms of other diseases, complicating the diagnosis.
Dixon says no case of lupus has been recorded in her family. On the other hand, psoriasis, which is also an autoimmune disease, is hereditary in her family.
Moreover, it was found that individuals diagnosed with lupus are also prone to other autoimmune pathologies, such as type I diabetes, scleroderma, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, vitiligo, inflammatory bowel disease, reactive arthritis, Graves disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, celiac disease, Addison’s disease and pernicious anemia.
The cells and tissues of the body are being attacked by antibodies produced by the immune system as though they were pathogenic organisms or viruses.
What causes lupus?
Although genetics play an important role in the transmission of the disease lupus, it is not a determining factor. It’s not because someone in your family suffered that you have to suffer too. Its appearance is favored by other factors such as environment, stress hormones, including estrogen, which is responsible for much of the diseases in women.
Lupus commonly affects people between 15 and 44 years, the period during which women are sexually active and especially fertile. It also occurs in people between 70 and 80 years.
How to treat lupus?
To date, there is no specific treatment for this disease. However, taking some anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive drugs may help relieve the symptoms. Besides, people who suffer from lupus are generally able to read the signals from their bodies and recognize what triggers their evil. For Dixon, it is especially coldness, stress and physical exertion.
She concluded her testimony by expressing her gratitude to her family and friends who supported her, and asserting that each person with lupus has to be determined and have courage to fight this disease.