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What is Lupus?

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune condition that can cause inflammation throughout your body, it tends to primarily be a localized condition, so it is not always systematic.

An autoimmune disease is a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells.

Lupus mostly affects your; skin, joint, internal organs eg kidneys and the heart.

Types of lupus.

Systematic lupus erythematous(SLE) is the most common form of lupus.

Cutaneous lupus a form of lupus that is limited to the skin 

Drug induced lupus, a lupus like disease caused by certain prescription drugs.

Neonatal lupus, a rare condition that affects infants of women who have lupus.

Risk factors.

Anyone can get lupus but certain people are at a higher risk of lupus including; 

1. Women ages 15- 44.

2. Certain racial or ethnic groups eg Asian American, African American etc.

3. People who have a family member with lupus or another autoimmune disease.

9 out of 10 people with lupus are women.

It has no cure.

Symptoms of lupus.

1. Fatigue.

2. Fever.

3. Joint pain, stiffness and swelling.

4. Butterfly shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose.

5. Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure (photosensitivity). 

6. Fingers that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods ( Raynaud’s phenomenon).

7. Dry eyes and mouth( sjogren’s syndrome).

8. Headaches.

9. Chest pains.

Causes of lupus.

It is unclear why some people get lupus. There are factors that probably make this more likely. They include;

1. An illness or infection.

2. Smoking cigarettes.

3. Strong sunlight.

4. Hormonal changes such as during puberty.

5. Some medication.

Lupus is not directly passed from a parent to their children.

Diagnosis of lupus.

It can be difficult to make a clear diagnosis of lupus because it affects people differently. The earlier the diagnosis and the treatment started the better the chances of keeping this condition under control.

1. Complete blood count.

It measures the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Results may indicate you have anemia which commonly occurs in people with lupus.

2. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate. 

This is blood test that determine the rate at which red blood cells settle at the bottom of a tube in one hour. A faster than normal rate may indicate a systematic disease such as lupus.

3. Urinalysis.

An examination of a sample of your urine may show an increased protein level or red blood cells in the urine, which may occur if lupus affected your kidney.

4. Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test.

A positive test for presence of these antibodies produced by your immune system indicates a stimulated immune system. If you test positive for ANA your doctor may advice more specific antibody testing.

5. Biopsy.

Lupus can harm you kidney in many different ways and treatment can vary depending on the type of damage that occurs. A sample of kidney tissues is cut and taken to the laboratory for further analysis.


1. Nonsteroid antiflammatory drugs( NSAIDS).

Over the counter NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen, help reduce mild pain and swelling in joints and muscles.

2. Antimalarial drugs.

Medicines that prevent malaria or treat malaria also treat joint pain, skin rashes, fatigue and lung inflammation.

3. Corticosteroids.

Corticosteroids ( prednisone) may help reduce swelling, tenderness and pain. In high doses, they can calm the immune system. They come in different forms; a shot or a cream to the skin.

Lupus respond quickly to these powerful drugs.

3. BLyS – specific inhibitors.

They limit the amount of abnormal B found in people with lupus.

4. Immunosuppressive agent/ chemotherapy.

These medicines may be used in severe cases of lupus, when lupus affects major organs and other treatments do not work. These medicines can cause serious side effects because they lower the body’s ability to fight off infections.

5. Other treatment.

You may need other medicines to treat illnesses or diseases that are linked to your lupus eg high blood pressure.

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