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Butterfly rash in lupus
What Is Lupus?
Lupus is a condition where the immune system goes into overdrive and starts to create a lot of extra antibodies. The surplus antibodies start attacking your body instead of protecting it, and lupus may be diagnosed.
Different Types Of Lupus
There are two different types of lupus, and the most common is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). This type of lupus affects the entire body and can be serious. The other form of lupus is Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) which affects the skin causing psoriasis. So far no cure has been found for lupus, however, if the condition is diagnosed early, it can often be managed using both natural remedies and conventional treatments.
Sections included in this article:
- What is lupus?
- What Percentage Of The Population Has Lupus?
- Early Lupus Symptoms?
- What Triggers Lupus?
- How Is Lupus Diagnosed?
- Natural Remedies For Lupus
- Hughes Syndrome and Lupus
What Percentage Of The Population Has Lupus?
Around five million people around the world suffer from lupus today. About 90% are women and the condition may first become visible between the ages 14 and 50. It is more common in people of Afro-Caribbean and Asian descent, and there is a genetic link. In the UK, it is estimated that around 50,000 people are living the lupus. The figure in the United States is higher and it is thought about 1,5 million people in the US have lupus.
Early Lupus Symptoms
When I was studying physiology my lecturer called lupus "the great mimic" as the symptoms are very diverse and can be mistaken for other health problems such as glandular fever, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and kidney problems. Lupus is also very similar to a condition called Raynaud's disease.
Early lupus symptoms to look out for:
Skin rashes - the classic "butterfly rash" can be a symptom of lupus. (A butterfly rash is a rash across the nose and the cheeks.) Rashes can also occur on the elbows, fingers, and toes.
Fatigue and depression - scientists and doctors are not certain as to how much the brain is affected by the inflammation caused by lupus. It is difficult to be sure if fatigue and depression are results of the disease itself, or whether they are reactions to suffering from lupus.
Hair loss - this is a very common sign of lupus and you may find you are losing a considerable amount of hair.
Painful joints - this can occur in all joints and may not only affect the joints but also muscles and ligaments. Sometimes it is diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis adding to the difficulty of diagnosis. When tendons become inflamed, it can cause the fingers to appear as deformed, and the thumb pulls outwards from the hand.
Inflamed glands - in lupus the glands become inflamed easily and a sufferer may have problems with glandular fever and tonsillitis.
Miscarriages -there is a condition which is somewhat inter-related to lupus and it called Hughes syndrome, and can lead to problems within the placenta. A brief insight into Hughes syndrome further down in this article.
Mouth ulcers - frequent mouth ulcers are another common symptom of lupus.
Mosquito and other insect bites - lupus sufferers often complain about insect bites, they seem to get more of them and bites are painful, extra itchy, and bites take along time to heal.
What Triggers Lupus?
There is not one apparent cause to what triggers lupus. However, there are distinct factors that can bring on a first attack, or cause a flair up.
UV Light - sufferers are sensitive to UV light so sunny beach holidays can be a problem. Others find fluorescent light and low energy bulbs to be an issue.
Hormones - lupus can often appear in the early teens and hormones are part of the problem. Pregnancy and menopause can also affect lupus. Any event which affect your hormones is a trigger.
Medicines - heart medication, the Pill and treatments for acne are associated with a flair up or first attack.
Stress - any stressful can cause a flair up.
How Is Lupus Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of lupus is not easy and many doctors fail to consider the condition. Everybody I have met suffering from lupus initially had their symptoms dismissed by their doctors. I only know one doctor who considers the condition during clinical practice. Most sufferers are often considered hypochondriacs as the symptoms are confusing. I think a lot of people may be walking around undiagnosed.
Doctors should consider looking out for antibodies in the blood, low red blood cell count (anaemia is common) and proteins in urine. There are also tests for inflammation in the blood which can be helpful.
Natural Remedies For Lupus
After the initial flare up you may want to lower your conventional drug intake. Drugs include steroids, immune suppressing drugs, and sometimes anti-malaria drugs.
You should always do this together with your doctor however you can use "nature's way" to manage lupus.Everyone is different so listen to your body and find out what works for you. These are the treatments or actions which I think work best:
Easy exercise - yoga, swimming and walking are all great as they are not too vigorous and should not cause fatigue.
St Johns Wort - this herb could help to lift your mood if you are depressed and can also help to ease pain. Do not use if you are on the Pill, or taking medication for depression.
Vitamins A, C and E - all great antioxidants and will support your immune system. Vitamin A is great for the DLE form of lupus as it contains betacarotene.
Glucosamine - will help with inflammation in your joints and many lupus sufferers have said it that this is the supplement which helps them the most. Should you take it? In trials glucosamine has some really positive results for the victims of lupus. Not only has it eased joint pain, but improved overall health. Glucosamine can help to improve the health of joints in both large and small joints. It works by helping to reduce inflammation. When you have the misfortune to suffer lupus, your inflammatory response is much worse, and this is the main reason why you should add this supplement to your daily healthy routine.
Omega 3 - the omega 3 long chain fatty essential acids also help to reduce inflammation. You will find them in fish oils and flax seed oil. Flaxseed oil is a good supplement for lupus as it supports the skin.
Sun - try to stay out of strong sun as this definitely causes flare ups.
Diet - avoid food with high salt content and increase your intake of fruit and vegetables. Fruit, nuts, soya and juice for breakfast is a good start to the day for all lupus sufferers. Wholegrain bread is good as well, and don't forget your lentils, beans and alternative grains such as buckwheat.
It should be possible to carry on a normal life with lupus, but it is important to get diagnosed and treated. Just like any other medical condition information is power, and the more knowledge you have about your illness the better.
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Hughes Syndrome and Lupus
Professor Graham Hughes and a group of scientists discovered Hughes Syndrome back in 1983. It is a condition which increases the stickiness of the blood and causes it to clot excessively.
The condition was first discovered in lupus sufferers however it is known that not only lupus sufferers have the condition. The blood clots occur at any time and can lead to strokes, memory loss, headaches and can cause miscarriages. The discovery has benefited pregnant women that suffer with the condition and over 90% diagnosed women with Hughes syndrome can now have a successful pregnancy.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2012 Annie Messeri
Gina Welds from Tampa, Florida on August 01, 2016:
Like you, @Healthyannie, I have been trying to raise awareness about lupus. It is such a misunderstood disease and one which can sometimes take years to diagnose. It took close to 15 years in my case. I've written about my journey in a few articles. Thanks for bringing awareness to lupus and for writing such a well researched article.
Annie Messeri (author) from Spain on October 05, 2012:
Hi Peter. Thank you for dropping by. Not a lot of attention is paid to Lupus but it is not that uncommon, and many people with Lupus go untreated or not diagnosed properly. Take care Annie
Peter Geekie from Sittingbourne on October 05, 2012:
A well written and researched article on a tricky condition - thank you.
Good additional information on Hughes Syndrome
kind regards Peter