For those of you that may not know, this topic is near and dear to my heart. I’ve been diagnosed with lupus myself, as well as some of the other autoimmune diseases. It’s important to identify and treat these diseases as soon as possible in order to prevent damage to your body. In most cases, people spend years and see several different doctors trying to find an answer to explain what’s wrong with them. Please make yourself a priority. Don’t give up. Keep looking and fighting for yourself. It’s important.
World Lupus Day
Today has been designated as World Lupus Day. It’s important that this autoimmune disease be recognized and discussed. It’s important to recognize the symptoms and to fight for a diagnosis. The longer you’re undiagnosed, the more damage can occur to your body.
What is lupus? It’s a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of your body. Something goes wrong with your immune system and, instead of fighting off viruses, germs, and bacteria (like it’s supposed to do); it fights and destroys your healthy tissue. This causes inflammation, pain, and damage to various parts of your body.
The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that there are currently 1.5 million Americans that have some form of lupus. While this is a widespread disease, awareness of it is way behind many other diseases.
A recent UCLA study found that lupus is among the leading causes of death in young women between 5 and 64 years of age. Often, children and teens are among those most likely to suffer the more severe and life-threatening consequences of the disease.
Currently, only 73% of Americans between 18 and 34 are aware of lupus and most know little about it. This is upsetting because this is the age group that is at the greatest risk of developing lupus. It affects mostly women of child-bearing age.
It’s sometimes difficult to diagnose lupus as it is often called “the great imitator” due to confusion of symptoms with many other things including fibromyalgia, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, Lyme disease, and many more. It is important to be diagnosed as it affects many different parts of your body and can cause significant damage. Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening.
Symptoms may be vague. Symptoms may come and go and new symptoms can pop up and disappear at various times, sometimes even in the same day! Some of the more common symptoms include (but are definitely not limited to):
- Extreme fatigue (worse than being tired)
- Headaches (from mild to severe)
- Painful and/or swollen joints
- Swelling (edema) in feet, legs, hands, and/or eyes
- Sun and/or light sensitivity (photosensitivity)
- Pain in the chest on deep breathing
- Hair loss
- Abnormal blood clotting
- Mouth and/or nasal sores
Some more serious consequences can be attributed to lupus both directly and indirectly (through permanent damage due to inflammation, treatment drugs, etc.). Some of these can include things such as infection, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, osteoporosis, and fibromyalgia. Infections, cardiac conditions, and lupus itself are the 3 top causes of death in lupus patients. It is imperative to identify, monitor, and treat all conditions with a diagnosis of lupus.
Rarely does lupus come alone. Once diagnosed with this autoimmune disease, you are far more likely to develop one or more others. Some of these may include inflammatory arthritis, connective tissue disease, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, vaculitis, Rheumatoid arthritis, eye problems such as uveitis, Raynaud’s, peripheral neuropathy, and blood count issues. These are just some of the others to look for. This is something to be aware of and follow up with your physician to ensure diagnosis and treatment for each condition.
Please take time and learn a bit more about Lupus. It’s important to learn the facts and to bring any unexplained symptoms to your doctor’s attention.