According to the Lupus Foundation of America, 9 out of 10 women have lupus, and at this time, 1.5 million of people suffer from this ailment in the U.S. For that reason, in this article we will focus on this autoimmune disease, its prevention, treatment and symptoms.
We will show you two conversations with a patient, and a specialist nurse. Both frequently used the word: “unpredictable.”
Medical Daily published the experience of Mallory Dixon, 29, with this disease. She said, “It’s a disability that you cannot describe because the whole thing about lupus is that it’s so unpredictable.”
Lupus comes suddenly, but at the same time, it can happenno matter the race, ageor any other criterion. Also, it has a wide range of symptoms thatmight be changed during lifeandmay vary in severity.
The doctors in the case of Dixon,when she was only 17, diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis, but her symptoms just wouldn’t stop for many years after.
She confessed, “One of my doctors told my parent I might need to see a therapist.”
After 6 years from the initial diagnosis, one doctor reviewed her condition, examined the medical history, the symptoms, and recognizedthe lupus. Dixon had the feeling that something was terribly wrong foryears before and therefore, she decided to go to the hospital. She explained:
“The night before, I was afraid to go to sleep. I tried to downplay the pain, but I had the feeling I was dying.”
On the way to the hospital, Mallory Dixon technically died and was brought to life. So, she stayed in the hospital for 86 days, and her condition was treated in different ways: she fell into a coma, she was treated with dialysis, received chemo, and spent time on a ventilator. Then, it has been found that lupus moved into the kidneys and caused those symptoms and pain. Specifically, her kidneys started to “shut down.”
Dixon said, “They do think with early prevention we can keep lupus from spreading to organs like the kidneys or in some cases, a patient’s heart or brain.” For that reason, she thinks that the most important thing is to “educate young women about what to look for.”
Therefore, it’s very important to learn the signs of lupus.
In the interview for Medical Daily, a national nurse health educator, Sarah Stothers, RN, who works at the Lupus Foundation of America, she listed the most frequent signs of lupus, for both sexes.
Also, she continues:
- Debilitating fatigue
- Sun- or light-sensitivity
- Hair loss
- Abnormal blood clotting
- A rash in the shape of a butterfly, spread across the cheeks and nose
- Extreme tiredness
- Nose or mouth ulcers
- Painful or swollen joints
- Swelling around the eyes, hands, legs, feet
- Fingers turning blue and/or white when cold
- Pain in chest when breathing deeply
Stothers says: “Some people look completely normal but they feel awful. Doing the smallest task is impossible, because you look so normal on the outside, and that’s probably the biggest thing: ‘But you look completely fine!’”
This autoimmune illness is pretty often called “the great imitator,” since it often imitates the signs of numerous other ailments, like in the case of bone,lung, muscle, heart diseases,along with thyroid issues, diabetes, Lyme disease, blood disorders, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Because of the fact that it shares these symptoms, lots of experts believe that it’s linked to autoimmune and hormonal disorders.
Dixons also explains “Lupus does not run in my family. The only thing that does run in my family is psoriasis, which is another autoimmune disorder.”
Specifically, many patients diagnosed with lupus have been diagnosed with “a second or third autoimmune disorder” in their lifetime.
So, if some of these diseases run in your family or if you are already diagnosed with any of these autoimmune diseases, it’s a sign that you must be careful about the symptoms of lupus, because if you diagnose it early, you possibly will avoid numerous complications later in your life.
Most frequently, people suffer from these autoimmune diseases: type 1 diabetes, scleroderma, Hashimoto’s disease, psoriasis, vertigo, rheumatoid arthritis, reactive arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, Graves’ disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, Addison’s disease, pernicious anemia,celiac disease.
In the case of all these diseases, the tissues in our body are mistakenly attacked by the immune system, like they were some foreign invaders, germsorviruses.
Causes of lupus
Stothers says, “We know there’s a genetic component to lupus.” Still, she added that it does not mean that the person will definitely suffer from lupus, but the environment and the hormones are also two important factors. According to experts, regarding the average age range for diagnosis and the higher rate in the case of women, estrogen is involved in the development.
Stothers added “It’s predominately diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 44, and that is the time when women are most fertile. In fact, many women are first diagnosed while pregnant or after giving birth, when their hormones are in flux. “
However, she has also witnessed lupus in people in their 70s and 80s.
Sarah Stothers suggests “Lupus patients often live productive, long, and happy lives.” Yet, in order to preserve their healthandcontrol the condition, patients have to monitor the symptoms.
Dixon says that patients experience mild to severe outbreaks.
“That is the hard thing with lupus, the unknown of when you are going to have a really bad flare-up. Everyone has to figure out her own triggers.” Dixon admitted that the stress, the hard workand the common cold were the triggers of her condition.
Sarah Stothers points out that lupus patients are really strong and brave people. “Somehow they make it work. People with lupus are probably the most courageous people I have ever met and the most in tune with their bodies. I am very privileged to know them.”
Dixon also says that the support of her dearest ones, friends, andfamily, was of great help, but she also said that the biggest strength must come from the patient himself. She states:
“At the end of the day, you are going to be the one to get yourself out of bed.”