Archives for January 2016

5 Important Lupus Facts You Need To Know

Lupus facts

Fact #1: Did you know that lupus itself is not fatal but what it does to your body is?

Lupus Is Not Fatal

Image Credit: Heidi Rader, My Invisible Journey

Fact #2: Did you know that only 31% of adults with lupus are able to work full time?

Working With Lupus

Image Credit: @mctd-support

Fact #3: Did you know that 97% of people with lupus say they downplay symptoms to avoid upsetting their families?

People With Lupus

Image Credit: High Heels and Training Wheels

Fact #4: Did you know that lupus is more common that cystic fibrosis, leukemia, muscular dystrophy, and multiple sclerosis… combined?

 Lupus is commonImage Credit: Molly’s Fund Fighting Lupus

Fact #5: Lupus is unpredictable: Lupus is autoimmune disease that affects nearly 2 million Americans. From one day to the next, patients never know which of the many symptoms they will face. Feeling well in the morning doesn’t guarantee a pain-free day

Lupus is unpredictable

Image Credit: Project Lupus Education & Awareness Campaign by Anna Lindley 

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Systemic Lupus Symptoms

Lupus is a systemic disease that can affect any organ system. Symptoms may come and go and are different from person to person. Almost everyone with SLE has joint pain and swelling, one third of patients has fibromyalgia and some develop arthritis.

The infographic below can help you to visualize the effects that lupus can have on the body.
Systemic Lupus Symptoms
Image Credit: Health Line

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Attention: How To Recognize Early Lupus Symptoms

Early Lupus Symptoms

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. It has a variety of symptoms and it affects each individual uniquely. Some people have severe symptom while others have only few mild ones.

Early lupus symptoms are similar to those of other health conditions and as result having them does not necessarily mean you have lupus. If you experience any of these symptoms or suspect you may have lupus you should always see a doctor for a correct diagnosis.

Hair Loss

Lupus can cause hair loss due to inflammation of the skin and scalp. Some even have thinning of eyebrows, eyelashes, beards and other body hair. Hair becomes ragged, feels brittle and breaks easily.

A successful lupus treatment can result in re-growth of the hair. However, hair loss may become permanent if lupus caused lesions on your scalp.

Skin Rash

Another typical early lupus symptom is the butterfly-shaped rash that appears on both cheeks and over the bridge of the nose. It can occur suddenly or appear after exposure to sunlight.

Lupus can also result in non-itchy lesions in other body parts and may even cause hives. Many patients are sensitive to sun or even artificial lighting with some experiencing discoloration of toes and fingers.

Pulmonary Issues

Research studies show that about 50% of people with SLE experience lung involvement during the course of their disease. There are 5 main types of lung problems that can occur in lupus:

  • Pleuritis or pleurisy when the 2-layered membrane surrounding the lungs called pleura is affected by inflammation. People with pleuritis often experience pain when taking deep breaths due to inflammation creating more pressure on the lungs.
  • Acute lupus pneumonitis affects up to10% of lupus patients and is a serious condition that progresses quickly. It requires an immediate attention and often is treated with immuno-suppressive drugs and corticosteroids. Common symptoms are shortness of breath, chest pain and a dry cough that may bring up blood.
  • Chronic (fibrotic) lupus pneumonitis develops gradually over years. Often people do not realize that they have it because they cannot connect the initial symptoms with lupus.
  • Pulmonary hypertension can affect about 10% of people with lupus. It is a unique form of high blood pressure in which the blood vessel thickens and reduce the amount of blood that goes to the lungs. This effect creates a condition called hypoxia when you body’s tissues become deprived of oxigen.
  • “Shrinking lung” syndrome creates a sense of breathlessness and reduced chest expansion.


According to research, about 90% of patients with lupus experience some level of fatigue. In most cases it is caused by complications and underlying medical problems such as fibromyalgia, thyroid issues, depression, anemia or a kidney problem. Sometimes fatigue is a side effect of medication.


One of early lupus symptoms is low grade fever without any apparent reason. Low grade fever could be a sign of inflammation, imminent flare-up or infection. It can be helpful to be aware of this fact and watch for a higher temperature because it can be an early indicator of a lupus flare up or active infection.

Kidney Inflammation

People with lupus may develop a kidney condition known as nephritis that makes it harder for kidney to filter waste and toxins from the blood. Signs associated with nephritis include high blood pressure and swelling in the lower legs and feet.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, nephritis usually begins within 5 years of the start of lupus. Frequent urination, darker urine and blood in the urine are also common signs of nephritis to watch for. 

Gastrointenstinal Problems

Patients with lupus usually complain of occasional heartburns, acid indigestion or other gastrointestinal issues. 

Painful Swollen Joints

Lupus can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in your joints, especially in the morning. It may be mild at first, gradually becoming more visible. Joint problems come and go just as other lupus symptoms.

Thyroid Problems

Many patients with lupus also develops autoimmune thyroid disease. Your body metabolism is controlled by the thyroid gland that affects all bodily functions and vital organs including kidney, heart and lungs. Low thyroid function of hypothyroidism can result in weight gain, dry skin, dry hair and moodiness.

Dry Eyes And Mouth

Lupus may cause you have a dry mouth and gritty, dry eyes as well. This is because some patients develop another antoimmune disorder refered to as Sjogren’s Syndrome.

This disorder causes malfunctioning of the glands responsible for secreting tears and saliva. Women may also experience dryness of vagina. Doctors can give medications to increase saliva and tears secretion after they rule out lupus. 

Other Symptoms

Other possible early lupus symptoms include chest pain, muscle pain, depression and osteoporosis. Other though more rare symptoms are seizures, anemia and dizziness. Interested to learn more about lupus symptoms? Check out this infographic that can help you to visualize systemic lupus symptoms and how lupus can affect your body

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What Is SLE: Here Is What You Need To Know

What is SLE

The immune system is responsible for defending your body against bacteria and dangerous infections. When the immune system fails to recognize and attacks its own body confusing it for foreign invades, an autoimmune disease can occur. Systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE is one among over 100 autoimmune conditions known today. 

What Is Lupus?

SLE is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect almost any organ or body’s system. It follows a relapsing and remitting course causing a widespread tissue damage and inflammation. Lupus can affect lungs, skin, joints, blood cells, kidneys, brain and heart.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, at least 1.5 million people in the United States and 5 million people worldwide are living with lupus. Each year more than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported in the United States alone.

SLE more often affects women than men with a ratio 10 to 1. In addition women of color who have African, Hispanic or Asian descent are 2 to 3 times more likely to get lupus than white women. However, it is important to say that people of all races and ethnicities can develop lupus.

Five types of lupus have been discovered, however SLE is the most serious and common type of lupus.

Impact Of Lupus

Image Credit: Lupus Foundation of America


The main cause of SLE is still unknown, however there is a strong scientific evidence that it is caused by a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. 

Some of the possible triggers of SLE include infection, viruses, sunlight, and other environmental factors. Hormonal changes also play a role in SLE. That is why it is more common in young women than men. Genetic factors also make some people prone to autoimmune diseases.

Studies show that lupus patients may not be able to effectively get rid of damaged and old body cells. The result is this inflammatory reaction.


Symptoms of SLE may vary greatly from individual to individual depending on the bodily tissue affected. People with lupus may experience periods of flares when symptoms show up, and periods of remission when symptoms are under control.

During a lupus flare symptoms begin suddenly with fever. It is important to watch for warning signs or early lupus symptoms that help to recognize a coming lupus flare. Flares can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe depending on the severity of symptoms.

In other patients the symptoms may develop gradually over months or years. They feel unwell; suffer from frequent episodes of fever or any of the symptoms listed below. The symptoms may be minimal or absent sometimes. 

-Muscle pain and swollen or painful joints

-Red rashes on the face

-Chest pain when taking deep breaths

-Sensitivity to sunlight

-Unusual hair loss

-Severe fatigue

-Swollen glands

-Mouth ulcers

-Edema or swelling in legs


-Blood clotting complications

-Raynaud’s syndrome (Fingers tingle and turn white or blue when cold)

Other symptoms depend on the part of the body affected by SLE such as the heart, digestive tract etc.


Diagnosis of lupus can be difficult and in some cases it can take many years because it is a multi-symptom disease that can affect nearly every organ system in the body. This makes lupus manifestation highly variable with some symptoms overlapping with other health conditions.

Your doctor will carry out a physical exam to check for the common signs of SLE. Since there is no single diagnostic test, screenings will help your doctor end up with an informed diagnosis. They include a lupus blood tests, lupus antibody tests, chest x-ray and urinalysis.

After your symptoms and test results evaluation doctor makes an assessment and diagnosis based on specific criteria. In 2012 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) introduced 11 diagnostic criteria for SLE that produce a sensitivity of 85% and a specificity of 95% for diagnosing lupus


Current SLE treatments offered by a conventional medicine are only aimed at easing its symptoms but not curing it. The treatment will vary depending on which parts of the body are affected and how severe is the damage of the tissue. It is recommended that you go for regular medical checkups instead of waiting for the disease to flare.

Treatments may include:

-Steroid creams for dealing with rashes

-Anti-inflammatory medications to ease stiffness and joint pains

-Varying doses of corticosteroids to reduce the immune response

-Anti malarial drugs such as hydroxychloroqiune and chloroquine are used for joint and skin problems. An eye test is recommended if these drugs are used because they can accumulate easily in the eye.


From Visually.

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