WHAT IS LUPUS?
TYPES OF LUPUS

LUPUS SYMPTOMS?
LUPUS DIAGNOSTIC TOOLS
SIGNS OF LUPUS
WHAT IS A FLARE?

LUPUS TREATMENTS?
PREVENTING A FLARE
SCIENCE MEANS  PROGRESS

  

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WHAT IS LUPUS?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease.  The immune systemís main job is to fight germs, viruses, cancer cells, and other foreign substances in the body...  But in autoimmune diseases, the immune system is out of control. It attacks healthy tissues, not germs.  The body literally attacks itself.

The immune system of a lupus sufferer sees it's own cells as enemies within the tissues of its own body... and, therefore, attacks its own tissues... in a mistaken effort to protect the body from other foreign substances.  Auto immune system confusion over what is foreign to the body and what is supposed to be in the body  becomes what is often known as lupus.  A healthy immune system produces proteins called antibodies and specific cells called lymphocytes that help fight and destroy viruses, bacteria, and other foreign substances that invade the body. In lupus, the immune system produces antibodies against the body's healthy cells and tissues. These antibodies, called autoantibodies, contribute to the inflammation of various parts of the body and can cause damage to organs and tissues. The most common type of autoantibody that develops in people with lupus is called an antinuclear antibody (ANA) because it reacts with parts of the cell's nucleus (command center). Doctors and scientists do not yet understand all of the factors that cause inflammation and tissue damage in lupus, and researchers are actively exploring them.

Lupus is a disease that can affect many parts of the body. Everyone reacts differently. Lupus has many symptoms, and not everyone with lupus reacts the same way.  Lupus can involve the joints, the skin, the kidneys, the lungs, the heart and/or the brain. If you have lupus, it may affect two or three parts of your body. Usually, one person doesnít have all the possible symptoms.

Lupus is a complex disease, and its cause is unknown. It is likely that a combination of genetic, environmental, and possibly hormonal factors work together to cause the disease. Scientists are making progress in understanding lupus, as described here and in the "Current Research" section of this booklet. The fact that lupus can run in families indicates that its development has a genetic basis. Recent research suggests that genetics plays an important role; however, no specific "lupus gene" has been identified yet. Studies suggest that several different genes may be involved in determining a person's likelihood of developing the disease, which tissues and organs are affected, and the severity of disease. However, scientists believe that genes alone do not determine who gets lupus and that other factors also play a role. Some of the factors scientists are studying include sunlight, stress, certain drugs, and infectious agents such as viruses.  

While there is at present no cure for lupus, there is hope of better medications becoming available within the next 10 years, which will produce the desired benefits without so many of the undesirable side effects. Currently lupus can be successfully controlled in the majority of cases via careful monitoring by a rheumatologist and other specialists as appropriate, careful adherence to avoiding triggers, and medication which is adjusted according to need. Statistically, 80-90% of people with lupus will live a normal life span. In addition, there are a small number of lupus patients who appear to go into complete remission indefinitely. This is a vast improvement over out-of-date statistics cited in many older lupus books. Further, lupus is NOT necessarily a progressive disease. Thus, the goal early in the course of treatment is to do the most good while doing the least harm, and also to prevent irreversible major organ damage. While finding a complete cure for lupus and lupus related diseases may be difficult due to the complex genetic patterns and wide variability in these diseases, the vast majority of lupus patients can expect to live long, full lives. It is important to note that different patients can have different responses to any treatment.

 

WHAT IS LUPUS?  -  TYPES   -  SYMPTOMS - DIAGNOSTIC TOOLS                       
SIGNS  -  FLARES TREATMENTS  -  PREVENTING FLARES  -  SCIENCE MEANS PROGRESS
     

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