What is Lupus? Lupus Symptoms and Treatment Methods
Lupus is a lifelong disorder of the immune system. Caused by inflammation and tissue damage, lupus can also cause joint pain.
Lupus is a lifelong disorder of the immune system. Immune cells attack the body's own healthy tissues, causing inflammation and tissue damage. Symptoms may be limited to the skin, but more often lupus also causes internal problems such as joint pain. In severe cases, it can damage the heart, kidneys and other vital organs. Although there is no cure, there are treatments that can minimize the damage.
Joint and muscle pain is often the first sign of lupus. This pain tends to occur simultaneously on both sides of the body, especially in the wrist, hand, finger, and knee joints.
A revealing symptom of lupus is a butterfly-shaped rash on the cheeks and bridge of the nose. Other common skin problems include sensitivity to the sun with scaly, red patches or a scaly, purple rash on various parts of the body, including the face, neck, and arms.
Change in Nail
Lupus can cause nails to crack or fall off. They can change color with blue or reddish spots at the base. These spots are actually in the nail bed as a result of inflamed small blood vessels. Swelling can also cause the skin around the nail to appear red and puffy.
Fever and Fatigue
Most people with lupus experience some degree of fatigue. In most cases, it is severe enough to interfere with exercise and other daily activities. Most patients also have a low-grade fever from time to time.
Many people with lupus are unusually sensitive to the sun and other forms of ultraviolet light. A day at the beach can trigger skin rashes in sun-exposed areas and worsen other lupus symptoms.
Lupus symptoms tend to come and go, and this includes hair loss. Patients may experience periods when their hair falls out in patches or thins all over the scalp. Once the lupus attack is over, it's possible for new hair to regrow.
Some people with lupus develop a condition called Raynaud's phenomenon. Fingers and toes become painful, numb and tingling in response to cold weather or emotional stress. This happens when small blood vessels spasm and restrict blood flow to the area. Fingers and toes may turn white or blue during an attack.
Lupus Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosing lupus can be difficult. The disease can mimic other conditions and often takes a different course in different people. Although there is no single test for lupus, certain proteins often show up in a patient's blood. A blood test for antinuclear antibodies can provide a critical clue. Other laboratory tests can check cell counts, kidney function, and clotting time. A tissue biopsy of a related organ, such as the skin or kidney, sometimes aids in the diagnosis.
There are ways to control lupus symptoms. These include corticosteroid creams for rashes and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for joint pain and fever. Antimalarial drugs can help fight joint pain, ulcers, and rashes. Corticosteroids can also be given as pills. In severe cases, they can be given intravenously. People with severe lupus may benefit from medications that suppress the immune system.