Everyone reacts to lupus differently. Some people with lupus experience serious, life-threatening problems. But for most, lupus can be kept under control with medicines and lifestyle changes. Unfourtanetly, lupus is a disease that is often overlooked, misdiagnosed and misunderstood. So it’s important to know as much as you can about lupus symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
What is lupus?
Lupus is a disease where the immune system attacks instead of protects. The immune system is the body’s natural defense against disease. In lupus, the immune system creates antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues and organs.
The two most common types of lupus are systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and cutaneous lupus. SLE is the form of the disease that most people mean when they say “lupus.” The word “systemic” means the disease can affect many parts of the body — including
the kidneys, brain or central nervous system, blood and blood vessels of the circulatory system, skin, lungs, heart, and joints.
Less common forms of lupus include drug-induced lupus and neonatal lupus, a rare type of lupus that affects newborns.
Are you at risk of developing lupus?
Wondering if you are at risk of developing lupus? Well, the good news is you don’t have to worry about catching it from someone else like the average cold or flu. If you have lupus, you also don’t have to feel guilty about passing it to someone else because that isn’t how the autoimmune disease works.
So how exactly do you get lupus?
Although the exact cause of lupus remains unknown, it is believed that people with lupus may be predisposed to the disease because of their genes. In fact, 10% of lupus patients have a first-degree relative (parents, siblings, children) or a second-degree relative (aunt, uncle, first cousin) with lupus, according to the Lupus Research Alliance. Many have relatives with other autoimmune diseases.
This is where knowing your family history becomes important. If you don’t already know, consider asking family members if anyone in the family has had a history of autoimmune diseases. This step is key because Blacks are 2 to 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with lupus than whites.
While you may be young and feel like you are invincible, it is also important to know your risk of developing lupus because 1 in 5 people with lupus are under the age of 20, according to the Lupus Research Alliance. However, in most cases, lupus starts between the ages of 15 and 45.
Another risk factor for developing lupus is your gender. Although men can develop lupus, 9 in 10 people with lupus are female.
Your environment may also play an important role in whether or not you develop lupus. Possible triggers for developing lupus include