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What is Lupus?

Descriptive
What is Lupus?

“It's never lupus.” Dr. House perhaps and this common quip is what perhaps made lupus such the well-known illness that it is today. Before, many had no idea what might be causing their symptoms, or if their symptoms were even related at all. However, Dr. House was wrong:  It actually is, quite frequently, lupus - so what is lupus exactly?

More and more people than ever are being diagnosed with this problem today. And that's why knowing about it is key.

What Is Lupus?

lupus disease bacteria

Very simply put, lupus is an inflammatory disease that attacks the body's own tissue. This means that, instead of fighting off foreign intruders, germs, or other things that your body keeps under wraps on a normal basis, it instead chooses to attack itself. This is the cause for all of the unpleasant symptoms and the damage that comes from lupus; your body is, indeed, doing it to itself.

What are the Symptoms of Lupus?

There are a number of different symptoms dealing with lupus. These include:

  • general pain in the muscles
  • pain while breathing
  • rashes
  • hair loss
  • anxiety
  • blood in the urine
  • joint stiffness
  • major depression
  • dry mouth
  • anemia
  • fatigue
  • malaise
  • fever
  • sensitivity to light

bones skeleton x-ray joint pain

Possibly the most famous symptom of lupus is the butterfly-shaped rash that spreads across a person's face, generally from both cheeks to meet over the bridge of the nose.

Do Symptoms Mean It Is Lupus?

In short:  No. The symptoms tend to vary greatly. In fact, the most commonly known symptom, the butterfly-shaped rash across a person's face, is actually not present in all or even most cases; it just happens to be the most visible. Because of this, you should speak to your doctor as soon as you suspect lupus. The general breadth of the symptoms that lupus covers means that your problem could be any number of different things.

woman head sick

How to Get Diagnosed

The only way to truly become diagnosed with lupus is to speak with your medical care provider.

medical professional diagnosis

Unfortunately, finding out if you have lupus is a process of elimination, rather than a process of identification. There are tests that can be run to determine if what you are experiencing is something that is not lupus. By determining if it is not something, your doctor can determine if it's lupus or not.

Is There a Cure?

As of right now, no. There are no actual cures to lupus available, only treatments to stop the damage before it becomes too much. However, there are also ways to manage the symptoms, sometimes even stopping them in their tracks.

pill medication health

Anti-inflammatory medications, for instance, can stop the arthritis and joint pain commonly found in patients with lupus. Steroid creams are sometimes used to get rid of the rashes that crop up, as well.

Treatment

Treatment of lupus usually involves a host of different medications and regimens, mostly to treat the symptoms, not the lupus itself. The most basic treatment that a person with lupus should expect is immunosuppressants, to stop the body from attacking itself. They should also expect steroid creams, for the rashes, and to take care to avoid prolonged sun exposure. Beyond that, anti-inflammatory and pain medications may be necessary.

lupus pill treatment medication

So, Dr. House was wrong. It is sometimes lupus. And, with the wide variety of symptoms and the difficulty needed to diagnose it, lupus can seem very scary to some. But, with the proper treatment and knowledge, it is something that you can live with.

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