Five million people worldwide, and every year 16,000 new cases are reported.
Dr. Dariano, D.O.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease, and like all other autoimmune related conditions, it causes the cells in the body to attack itself.
In the case of Lupus, it causes the body to attack its joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs. Lupus is considered a chronic condition, meaning that the symptoms and side effects typically last for at least six weeks and in many cases, years. Lupus is not a curable disorder; therefore, monitoring symptoms and what triggers a flare is critical.
Symptoms of Lupus
Lupus can be difficult to diagnose at first since it mimics many other disorders. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, “Because lupus can affect so many different organs, a wide range of signs and symptoms can occur. These symptoms may come and go, and different symptoms may appear at different times during the course of the disease.
The most common symptoms of lupus (which are the same for men and women) are:
• Extreme fatigue (tiredness)
• Painful or swollen joints
• Anemia (low numbers of red blood cells or hemoglobin, or low total blood volume)
• Swelling (edema) in feet, legs, hands, and/or around eyes
• Pain in chest on deep breathing (pleurisy)
• Butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose
• Sun- or light-sensitivity (photosensitivity)
• Hair loss
• Abnormal blood clotting
• Fingers turning white and/or blue when cold (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
• Mouth or nose ulcers
“Many of these symptoms occur in other illnesses. In fact, lupus is sometimes called “the great imitator” because its symptoms are often like the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, blood disorders, fibromyalgia, diabetes, thyroid problems, Lyme disease, and a number of heart, lung, muscle, and bone diseases.
“You play an important role in helping your doctor manage your disease. Listen to your body, ask questions and stay involved.”
Antimalarials are used in conjunction with other pain and steroid medications. Antimalarials are most often prescribed for skin rashes, mouth ulcers, and joint pain, but also can be sufficient in mild forms of lupus where inflammation and blood clotting are a concern. Antimalarials improve lupus by decreasing autoantibody production, protecting against the damaging effects of ultraviolet light from the sun and other sources and improving skin lesions.
Several chemotherapy infusion drugs are used to alleviate the symptoms and recurrence of Lupus flares because of their immunosuppressant capabilities. Because Lupus can cause blood clotting, anticoagulants are often prescribed as well.
Getting plenty of rest and finding ways to unwind or destress is critical to staving off Lupus flares.
Managing the amount of time spent in the sun and eating a healthy diet are also ways to lessen the effects of the disease. It’s important to see your doctor regularly to monitor any changes in your overall health.
Rivers Family Medicine continues to provide their patients with the highest quality of care; they are continually looking for innovative methods of working together with their patients to ensure that they are not only aware of but also involved in the management and improvement of their patient’s health.
To schedule an appointment with Rivers Family Medicine, please call (352) 205-4302.
River Family Medicine
1503 Buenos Aires Boulevard, Building 110
The Villages, FL 32159