Lupus Treatment, Causes, Symptoms, Tests and Diagnosis

what is lupus?

Lupus is  defined  as  chronic  inflammatory  auto-immune  disease  in  which  immune  system attacks your own tissues and  organs.Inflammation caused by lupus may affect various parts of body like joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs. In this disease immune system produce anti-bodies that target tissues within their own body rather than foreign infectious agents.So, that’s  why we categorize this disease as auto-immune disease.

Lupus is one of the auto-immune disease in which body defense system termed as immune system misread the proteins present on the surface of tissues and organs as foreign agent or antigen and starts to produce anti-bodies against body own tissues and organs.It is not clearly understood what are the underlying causes of lupus but number of factors like genetic factors, history, environmental factors and life style play important role in the development of lupus.

Lupus Treatment, Causes, Symptoms, Tests and Diagnosis

symptoms of lupus

Symptoms of lupus may vary from person to person depending upon the are affected by lupus.However some common symptoms of  lupus are discussed below

  • Fatigue and fever
  • Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
  • Chest pain
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches, confusion, memory loss
  • Butterfly-shaped rash on the face
  • Skin lesions
  • Shortness of breath
  • Body Pain

 Causes of lupus

It  is  not  clearly  understood  what  are  the  underlying  causes  of  lupus  but number of factors like genetic factors, family history, environmental factors and life style play important role in the development of lupus.These factors are discussed below.

1.  Genetic causes

People having their family history of such auto-immune disease have more tendency to develop lupus when they come in contact with specific environmental triggering factors.Genetic are very important because most of the people suffering from lupus have family history of such disease due to specific genetic makeup. The most important genes are located in the HLA region on chromosome 6, where mutations may occur randomly (de novo) or may be inherited.

Lupus Treatment, Causes, Symptoms, Tests and Diagnosis

2.  Environmental triggers

Environmental factors are also important in the onset of lupus disease.For example sunlight exposure may exaggerate lupus disease by increasing internal lesions.Exposure to radiations,Chemicals and other industrial wastes are very important environmental factors that can initiate the onset of disease.Some researchers have found that women with silicone gel-filled breast implants have produced antibodies to their own collagen, but it is not known how often these antibodies occur in the general population.

Lupus Treatment, Causes, Symptoms, Tests and Diagnosis

3.  Drug induced lupus

Patients taking medicines for a long time have more chances of drug induced lupus due to certain kind of reactions initiated by these medications.Drug induced lupus is also very common because many people are taking medicines on daily basis due to their chronic illness. However, symptoms of drug-induced lupus generally disappear after discontinuation of medicines that are being used on regular basis.  There are number of that can cause this condition for example isoniazid, hydralazine, quinidine, and phenytoin.

Lupus Treatment, Causes, Symptoms, Tests and Diagnosis

 

 

Tests and diagnosis of lupus

It is difficult to diagnose lupus because there is no single specific test for lupus.However combination of  blood and urine tests, signs and symptoms, and physical examination findings leads to the diagnosis.

1.  Complete blood cell count

Complete blood cell count is a common test which measures red blood cells(erythrocytes), white blood cells, platelets and hemoglobin. If this test shows low amount of erythrocytes, leukocytes and platelets it may indicates lupus because  patient suffering from lupus may have low red blood cell count or anemic.

2.  Erythrocyte sedimentation rate

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate is another common test and very useful in the diagnosis of certain diseases.This blood test determines the rate at which red blood cells settle to the bottom of a tube in an hour. Normal person has erythrocyte sedimentation rate of 10-20mm/hr while person having high erythrocyte sedimentation rate may have lupus because erythrocyte sedimentation rate is increased in lupus.

3.  Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test

Antinuclear  antibody (ANA) test is basically test of  specific anti-bodies  that are  being  produced by our immune system when it is stimulated. A positive  antinuclear  antibody  test indicates that immune system is become  hyperactive due to which it is producing anti-bodies against body own tissues and organs and patient may have any kind of auto-immune disease like lupus.

4.  Biopsy

In some cases it is necessary to perform biopsy where there is risk of organ damaging.Sometimes lupus may attacks on  organs  like kidney.In this situation it is necessary to perform biopsy because biopsy results will determine that how much are of kidney is damaged and also gives an idea about causative agent that may be a lupus or anything else.

 Treatment of Lupus

Lupus treatment depends upon sign and symptoms and area affected by lupus.There are number of medications that being used in current scenario.These belongs to different classes and have different mechanism of actions.These drugs are discussed below

1.  Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

These drugs are also known as pain killers.They are used to ease the symptoms of pain. Main mechanism of NSAIDS is inhibition of pain  Causing agents called prostaglandins. NSAIDS are used at initial stages of lupus.They are also used when joints are affected by  lupus  and causing troublesome pain. NSAIDS should be used for short period of time because they not quite safe to use for a longer period of time.

Lupus Treatment, Causes, Symptoms, Tests and Diagnosis

2.  Antimalarial drugs

Hydroxychloroquine belongs to anti-malarial drugs.This drug is also used to treat number of auto-immune disorders like rheumatoid ,  osteoarthritis and lupus.Main mechanism of this drug is decreasing the sensitivity of immune system this will result into reduction in the severity of lupus symptoms. Hydroxychloroquine is available in market with many brand names like Plaquenil.

Lupus Treatment, Causes, Symptoms, Tests and Diagnosis

3.  Immunosuppressants

Immunosuppressants are widely used in the treatment of auto-immune disease due to their effectiveness.As their name indicates they suppress the immune system.Suppressing the immune system will ease the symptoms of lupus like joint inflammation, body pain and swelling.Examples of these  immunosuppressants are cyclophosphamide, cortcosteroids, mycophenolate, azathioprine and methotrexate.

Lupus Treatment, Causes, Symptoms, Tests and Diagnosis

FAQ’s   about    Lupus   Disease!

Systemic lupus erythematous

It  is chronic inflammatory disease that has variable symptoms and adopts a relapsing and remitting course.systemic lupus erythematosus is more common in women.It can affect almost any organ of the body.Symptoms of systemic lupus erythematous varies from patient to patient.

 Neonatal  lupus

Neontal  lupus is rare type of lupus.One of the main cause of neonatal lupus is entrance of anti-SS/Ro and anti-SSB/La antibobodies from mother to fetus that may cause neonatal lupus.

 Is lupus contagious?

Lupus is not contagious disease even it can not spread through sexual contact.You cannot catch lupus from some body or cannot give lupus to someone.

 Celebrities with lupus

Most popular celebrities having lupus are

  1. Michael Jackson has lupus
  2. Lady Gaga has lupus
  3. Nick Cannon has lupus
  4. Toni Braxton has lupus
  5. Sophie Howard has lupus

Lupus in Dogs

Lupus also affects animals especially dogs.Most common sign and symptoms of lupus in dogs are scaling and loss of pigment on the nose.The surface of the nose becomes  ulcerated and changes to smooth gray color.

 Lupus and pregnancy

Most of the women suffering from lupus are able to have children.However, pregnant women who is suffering from lupus needs careful medical monitoring because of risk of complications.

 Drug induced lupus

Drug induced lupus is a type lupus that settle down within days to months after discontinuation of causative agent.Most common drugs that cause drug induced lupus are antihypertensives, antibiotics  and anticonvulsants.

Lupus nephritis

Lupus nephritis is most common in patients who have clinical manisfestation of renal disease.Renal function test is necessary in this case to evaluate further complications.

Lupus pernio

Lupus pernio is a type of skin lesion in purplish color.Microscopic examination of skin specimen with lupus pernio shows granulomatous infiltration.lupus pernio is rare type of .

Lupus vasculitis

Lupus may affect blood vessels of eyes leading towards sudden loss of vision.Most common example of lupus vasculitis is retinal vasculitis in systemic lupus erythematosus.

Lupus fever

Fever is one of the most common feature of lupus but it is present alongwith butterfly shaped rashes in systemic lupus erythematosus patients.

 Lupus life expectancy

Lupus life expectancy depends upon the severity of disease But most of the people suffering from lupus pass a normal life span.Only in rare cases people died due to severity of lupus.

 Lupus flare

When lupus disease becomes worse and intense symptoms develops then this is termed as lupus flare.Lupus flares vary from mild to serious.Lupus patients often suffer from unpredictable bouts of disease.

How lupus Diagnosed?

Sign and symptoms of lupus vary from patient to patient.There is no single test through which we can confirm lupus disease.Combination of tests and sign and symptoms provide better idea about luous disease.

Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus

Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE) is non–atrophy-producing,non scarring, photosensitive dermatosis. subacute cutaneous lupus commonly develops in  sun-exposed areas including the extensor arms, neck, upper back, shoulders and upper torso.

 Lupus blood tests

Following test are being used to confirm the presence of lupus

  1. Complete blood count
  2. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
  3. Kidney and liver assessment
  4. Urinalysis
  5. Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test
  6. Chest X-ray
  7. Echocardiogram

 Discoid lupus erythematosus

Discoid lupus erythematosusis a chronic skin disorder of sores with inflammation, swelling and scarring on areas like scalp, ears and face.These lesions develop as a  red, inflamed patch with a scaling and crusty appearance.

 

Lupus anticoagulant

Lupus anticoagulant is also termed as lupus antibody, LA, LAC or lupus inhibitors.It is immunoglobulin that binds with proteins and phospholipids associated with cell membrane.It is actually a prothrombotic agent.

 Lupus Foundation of America

Lupus foundation of America is the largest national non-profit health organization that finds out the causes and cure of lupus and provide hope to people suffering from lupus disease.

Canis lupus

Canis lupus is not any kind of lupus disease.Most of the people become confuse about this term but it is basically a specie of wolves.

 Lupus butterfly rash

Rash is common feature of lupus disease but rash in lupus disease is butterfly shaped so that’s why it is frequently termed as lupus butterfly rash.

About Dr. Arslan Malik

Dr. Arslan Malik
Arslan Malik is noted health blogger, public health activist, aspiring dreamer and avid reader. With doctor in pharmacy, he has worked closely with various health organizations, multinational pharmaceuticals and community health programs. Beside his professional practice, he has an avid interest in writing and teaching Physiology and Medicines. He covers variety of topics from Nutrition and Natural Care to Diseases, Treatments, Drug Interactions, Preventive Care and Clinical Research.

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