When your immune system attacks healthy tissue and organs in your body, you are considered to have Lupus, this is called an autoimmune disease. The immune system usually protects your body against bacteria and viruses and can usually tell the difference between your body cells and foreign cells. Some autoimmune diseases affect only one organ, such as diabetes, whereas lupus affects the whole body. Lupus can affect many different parts of the body including your skin, kidneys, brain, heart, joints and lungs.
As the symptoms that you get can often mimic the symptoms that you get with other conditions, it can be a very hard disease to diagnose. One of the most distinctive symptoms that are associated with lupus is a butterfly rash which is on the face. The rash has this name because it resembles the wings of a butterfly.
Research has shown that someone with an inherited predisposition for lupus is at risk of developing the disease. It will usually be triggered by something in the environment for example sunlight, infections or a medication. If you are diagnosed with lupus it will not go away, however, the symptoms will come and go as you have periods of flare-ups. Lupus can be detected through a blood test where they look at your red blood cells, your white blood cells and platelet count.
Lupus is not a lethal disease; however, it can result in serious health complications in some cases. In severe cases, lupus can cause organ damage or failure. Many years ago most people that were affected by lupus would die young, usually as a result of kidney failure. However now 80-90% of people that are diagnosed with lupus will have a normal life span.
Here are some of the ways that lupus affects your organs:
· Kidneys- this is the most common organ to be affected by lupus. If the kidney inflammation is not caught early, then it can result in damage to the organ, however, noticing when you have a flare-up can help to reduce the risk as you can take medication to protect your kidneys.
· Heart- as doctors understanding of lupus has become more advanced, it has reduced the number of deaths that are caused; however, you can still be at risk of developing heart disease. Lupus can cause the tissue in the heart to become inflamed and can, therefore, lead to a heart attack or artery disease and in some cases chest pain.
· Blood- some of the people that suffer from lupus will also have APS, which can increase their risk of miscarriages and blood clots. Blood clots can develop anywhere in the body.
· Brain- lupus can also cause the brain to become inflamed. This can result in migraines, memory loss, poor concentration and possible seizures. It is also common to experience periods of anxiety and depression.
· Lungs- some patients will get inflammation in the lining of the lungs, which is called pleuritis, which can result in sharp chest pain when inhaling. Over a long period of time, scar tissue may develop in the lungs which can lead to a decreased oxygen capacity
Certain lifestyle changes can be made to improve the symptoms that you get from lupus. One of the biggest risks is developing cardiovascular disease, for this reason, it is recommended that you have a healthy diet, quit smoking and maintain a healthy weight.
This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.