My second diagnosis of an autoimmune disorder came 18 years ago. Lupus. So what the heck is that? I knew it was autoimmune and I knew it was causing these sores on my skin and I knew it was piggy-backing on my Sjogren's.
What is Lupus?Lupus (SLE) can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs. Symptoms vary but can include fatigue, joint pain, rash, and fever. These can periodically get worse (flare-up) and then improve. While there's no cure for lupus, current treatments focus on improving quality of life through controlling symptoms and minimizing flare-ups. This begins with lifestyle modifications, including sun protection and diet. Further disease management includes medications, such as anti-inflammatories and steroids.
Lupus in the bodyThe Face: Two common symptoms of lupus are a butterfly-shaped rash on the face and extreme sensitivity to sunlight.
The Hair: Hair loss and weak hair that breaks easily are often early signs of lupus.
The Mouth: Lupus, as well as some drugs used to treat the disease, can cause lesions inside the cheeks, lower lip or roof of the mouth. Dry mouth caused by secondary Sjogren's syndrome can lead to dental decay, gum disease, and difficulty swallowing.
The Esophagus: Inflammation of the esophagus can cause difficulty swallowing, acid reflux, heartburn and gas.
The Stomach: Lupus can cause nausea, diarrhea, and constipation. Use of NSAIDs can raise the risk of bleeding ulcers.
The Abdomen: When the linking inside the abdomen is inflamed, it can cause a build-up of fluids in the abdomen.
The Pancreas: Lupus raises the risk of pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas.
The Colon: Lupus may cause ulcers in the lining of the colon and rectum, causing bloody diarrhea.
The Liver: The liver can become inflamed, enlarged, or jaundice. People with lupus are also more prone to autoimmune hepatitis.
The Kidneys: Kidneys can become inflamed, but there may or may not be symptoms. Blood and urine tests can detect kidney problems.
The Blood: A less common symptom of lupus is anemia, or a low red blood cell count. Lupus can also increase the likelihood of blood clots.
The Heart: Inflammation of the heart muscles or the sac that surrounds the heart can cause chest pain. Chronic inflammation can cause scarring, restricted blood flow, and formation of blood clots.
The Eyes: People with lupus sometimes develop secondary Sjogren's syndrome, which causes extremely dry eyes.
The Brain: Inflammation of blood vessel walls within the brain include symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, change in mood, trouble concentrating and seizures.
Swollen Glands: The inflammation caused by lupus can cause swollen glands throughout the body.
The Lungs: Inflammation of the lungs can make breathing uncomfortable or even painful.
Joints and Muscles: Inflammation of the joints can cause swelling, stiffness and pain. Some people experience muscle aches and pains.
Question: How long have you been living with Lupus? Please leave your comments below.