Learning About Lupus

Your immune system is supposed to keep your body safe from foreign invaders such as viruses, bacteria, and other germs. Sometimes, however, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own organs, bones, muscles, or joints. This occurs if a person has one of the complex inflammatory and autoimmune diseases known as rheumatic disease. Over 100 types of rheumatic diseases have been identified, and in the United States, it is estimated that they affect 46 million adults.

What Is Lupus?

Lupus, one of many types of rheumatic diseases Catonsville, refers to a systemic autoimmune disease. In addition to causing widespread inflammation, lupus can attack specific organs. Various parts of the body, such as the blood vessels, joints, kidneys, skin, lungs, and brain can be damaged. Although it is possible for anyone to develop lupus, this disease is more common in women of Native American, African American, Asian, or Hispanic origin.     

What Symptoms Are Experienced?

The symptoms of lupus often mimic those caused by other illnesses, and this can make diagnosis difficult. As well, depending on the body parts that the disease impacts, symptoms can vary. Common symptoms include swelling, stiffness, and pain in the joints; headaches, memory loss, and confusion; Raynaud’s phenomenon, or fingers and toes turning blue upon exposure to cold or stress; skin lesions that are produced or worsen when exposed to the sun; and a rash, often in the shape of a butterfly, covering the bridge of the nose and cheeks. Patients have also reported dry eyes, shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, and fatigue.  

What Is Known About the Cause?

In cases of lupus, it is known that the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own organs and tissues. Furthermore, it is speculated that a combination of environment and genetics results in the disease; a person has an inherited disposition and then comes into contact with an environmental trigger. Although the specific cause of lupus remains unknown in most cases, potential triggers have been identified. These include infections, sunlight, and certain medications. In most instances of drug-induced lupus, symptoms will not persist if the medication is stopped.