There are many auto-immune diseases some of which includes rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, temporal arthritis and lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive attacks normal, healthy cells. Symptoms include inflammation, swelling and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, blood, heart, and lungs.
Due to it’s complex nature, people sometimes call it as disease of 1,000 faces.
This disease is not contagious. A person can not transmit it neither sexually nor in any other means.
In the US, people report around 16,000 new cases of lupus each year, and up to 1.5 million people may be living with this condition according to the Lupus Foundation of America.
The most interesting fact about this disease is that it is mostly seen in woman in particular. As 9 out of 10 occurrences of this disease affect females. The reason behind lupus affecting woman is linked with the female hormone oestrogen.
It has been researched that oestrogen affects immune system activity and induce lupus antibodies in mice that are susceptible to this disease
SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS (SLE)
It is the most common lupus. It is systemic, it causes inflammation throughout the whole body. A person during remission usually shows no symptoms. During a flare-up, the disease becomes active and shows symptoms.
It causes more damage to the body and is more dangerous than discoid lupus. It is considered the most severe form of lupus because it causes inflammation in the skin, joints, organs like the kidney, heart, lungs.
DISCOID LUPUS ERYTHEMATOUS (DLE)
In this condition only the skin gets affected. Rashes appear on the face ,neck ,and scalp. The raised areas many become thick and scaly , might also result in scarring. The rashes may last from few days to several months or years. The symptoms may recur.
It is less harmful that SLE since it does not affect any internal organs. But it has been observed that patients with DLE eventually develops SLE.
SUBACUTE CUTANEOUS LUPUS ERTHEMATOUS
It is a kind of lupus that causes lesions that appear on body parts and are exposed to the sun, It does not cause scarring.
DRUG INDUCED LUPUS
It is seen due to the reaction of a drug in the body. 10 per cent of SLE is caused due to drugs. The drugs which are commonly responsible for it are thyroid medications, antibiotics, antifungals, and oral contraceptive pills.
- Hydralazine, a hypertension medication
- Procainamide, a heart arrhythmia medication
- Isoniazid, an antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis.
Drug induced lupus typically stops after the person stops taking the drugs.
Mostly the mothers with SLE give birth to healthy babies but about 1 per cent of a woman with autoantibodies relating to this disease will have a baby with neonatal lupus. Babies with neonatal lupus show symptoms which includes dry eyes and a dry mouth. They might also have a skin rash, liver problems, and low blood counts. Around 10 per cent of babies will have anaemia. The lesions tend to fade away but some infants grow congenital heart disease in which the heart can not a normal and rhythmic pumping action. The infant may need a pacemaker and the condition might lead to life-threatening.
In an autoimmune disease like this disease, the immune system can not differentiate between healthy cells and antigens. The most common type of auto antibody which the body develops an anti-nuclear antibody (ANA). The ANA circulates around the body and reacts with the nucleus of other cells. It attacks the DNA of the other cells. That is why lupus affects some organs. Some scientists believe that some genes are responsible.
SYMPTOMS AND IT’S EFFECTS ON THE BODY
Lupus has wide range of symptoms:
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Pain or swelling in joints and muscles
- Swollen glands or lymph nodes
- Skin rashes due to bleeding under skin
- Mouth ulcers
- Sensitivity to sun
- Raynaud’s phenomenon
- Bone tissue death
- Pregnancy complications
It also affects the following organs:
- Central nervous system
- Blood vessels
Medication and treatment greatly depend on the symptoms shown by the patient. The most common medication used to control this disease are:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs)
Over the counter NSAIDs, such as naproxen sodium (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), may be used to treat swelling, pain and fever associated with this disease. Side effects of taking this drug can increase heart problems, damage kidney and cause stomach bleeding.
Medications commonly used to treat malaria such as hydroxychloroquine(Plaquenil) affect the immune system and can decrease the risk of lupus.
Prednisone and methylprednisolone (Medrol) can counter the inflammation caused by this disease.
Azathioprine(Imuran, Azasan), mycophenolate(Cellcept), Methotrexate(Trexall, Xatmep), cyclosporine may be helpful in serious cases of lupus.