The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that approximately 1.5 million people suffer from lupus disease in the U.S. alone. Moreover, 9 out of every 10 lupus patients are women.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that is unpredictable. It can occur at any age, and the severity of symptoms varies from person to person and over a patient’s lifespan.
A lupus patient, Mallory Dixon, 29, explains that she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was 17. But, she kept experiencing the symptoms of lupus for years.
About 6 years after her arthritis diagnosis, a physician actually added up her medical history, her symptoms, and diagnosed lupus. About 2 years later, Dixon felt miserable and experienced some breathing problems, so she went to the hospital.
She tried to alleviate the pain she experienced, but she had the feeling she was dying.
When she arrived at the hospital, she “technically” died. Doctors brought her back to life. Dixon spent about 3 months in the hospital as she fell into a coma, underwent dialysis, spent time on a ventilator, and received chemotherapy. Then, she found that the lupus disease had affected her kidneys. As a result of this, she experienced all these symptoms and pain.
Dixon notes that the early prevention can actually prevent lupus from affecting organs such as the kidneys, brain, or heart. Therefore, she thinks her goal is to educate people about what to pay attention to.
HERE ARE THE MOST COMMON SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF LUPUS:
- Extreme tiredness
- Pain in chest when breathing deeply
- Swollen or painful joints
- Swelling in the hands, legs, feet, and around eyes
- Nose or mouth ulcers
- Fingers turning blue and/or white when cold
- Abnormal blood clotting
- A butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks
- Sensitivity to light or sun
- Hair loss
It is important to know that the debilitating fatigue is among the early, warning signs of lupus.
In addition, the disease is typically isolating, which means you can look completely fine on the outside, but you actually feel awful and cannot perform even the simplest task.
In fact, lupus is also referred to as “the great imitator,” because the symptoms are usually similar to those of bone, muscle, lung and heart diseases; rheumatoid arthritis; fibromyalgia; Lyme disease; thyroid problems; diabetes; and blood disorders. Many scientists think that there is a link between lupus and hormonal and autoimmune disorders due to this sharing of symptoms.
Namely, since a large number of lupus patients are most commonly diagnosed with a second or third autoimmune disease at some point in their lives, if you are diagnosed with any of these health problems or your family history includes one, then you need to keep an eye open for any symptoms of lupus. Dixon says that in case you are able to recognize the early, warning signs of lupus, you may prevent a flare-up like the one that almost killed her.
Furthermore, a large number of people suffer from any of these autoimmune diseases: inflammatory bowel diseases, psoriasis, scleroderma, Graves’ disease, pernicious anemia, Addison’s disease, celiac disease, type-1 diabetes, reactive arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, Hashimoto’s disease, and vitiligo. In any of these diseases, the immune system can mistakenly attack bodily tissues as if they were viruses, germs, or any other foreign invaders.
THE MAIN CAUSES OF LUPUS:
- Although there is a genetic component to lupus, hormones and environment also play an important role in increasing your risk of the disease.
- Many scientists think estrogen plays a significant role, as a result of the average age range for diagnosis and the higher incidence among women.
- Namely, women between the ages of 15 and 44 are most commonly diagnosed with lupus.
- Moreover, that is the time when they are most fertile. That’s not all, a number of women are first diagnosed after giving birth or while pregnant.
- That is the period when their hormones often fluctuate.
- Of course, some people are also diagnosed in their 80s. This means that the disease is unpredictable.
SUPPORT FOR LUPUS PATIENTS
- Lupus patients can live long and happy lives, but they should pay attention to their own symptoms in order to stay healthy.
- The bad news is that you do not know when you will have a bad flare-up.
- Therefore, you should detect your own triggers.
- Dixon explains that working too hard, common colds, and high levels of stress are her own triggers.
- People suffering from lupus are usually very typed A people that may need some help.
- They are also the bravest people as well as the most in tune with their bodies.