by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks the host.
Inflammation is a protective process. Inflammation helps to eliminate a foreign body or organism (virus, bacteria) and prevent further injury. Signs of inflammation include; swelling, redness, pain and warmth. If inflammation persists as it can in lupus, then damage to the tissues can occur and normal function is impaired.
With lupus, the immune system attacks the host. Part of this reaction is to bring antibodies to the site that then attach to antigens (anything that the immune system recognizes as non-self or foreign) and form immune complexes. These immune complexes travel through the circulation and lodge in tissues and cause further inflammation and destruction.
Lupus is the Latin word for "wolf." The term has been associated with the disease since the 10th century, though the reasons are unclear. Erythematosus means redness. It is speculated that the name was given to describe the skin lesions (sores), which typically are red and perhaps at that time in history were thought to resemble the bite of a wolf.
Lupus can occur at any age, and in either sex. Nine out of ten people with lupus are women. During the childbearing years lupus strikes women 10-15 times more frequently than men.
People of all races can have lupus; however, African American women have a three times higher incidence and mortality than Caucasian women. They tend to develop the disease at a younger age and to develop more serious complications. Lupus is also more common in women of Hispanic, Asian, and Native American descent.
Symptoms of lupus vary widely...
• Achy or swollen joints
• Persistent fever over 100 degrees
• Extreme fatigue
• Skin rashes, including a butterfly shaped rash across the cheeks and nose
• Pain in the chest with deep breaths
• Excessive protein in the urine
• Sensitivity to sun or ultraviolet light
• Hair loss
• Abnormal blood clotting problems
• Fingers turning white and/or blue in the cold
• Persistent mouth or nose ulcers
There are four forms of lupus:
1. Cutaneous lupus erythematosus affects the skin. There are many different types of cutaneous lupus including:
• Chronic cutaneous LE (CCLE) which is sometimes called discoid lupus.
• Subacute cutaneous LE (SCLE)
• Acute cutaneous LE (ACLE).
2. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) attacks multiple organ systems in the body including the skin, joints, lungs, blood, blood vessels, heart, kidneys, liver, brain and the nervous system.
3. Drug-induced lupus may develop after taking certain prescription medications. Symptoms generally disappear, within weeks after the drug is discontinued.
4. Neonatal lupus, a fourth type, is rare. It occurs in infants whose mothers have abnormal antibodies and transfer them to the infant through the umbilical blood.
The majority of people with lupus have lupus alone. Between five and thirty percent of people with lupus have overlap symptoms with one or more connective tissue diseases. There are several overlaps with lupus including: lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus and myositis, lupus and systemic sclerosis (SSc or scleroderma), lupus and Sjogren's syndrome (SS).
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