It is estimated that about 5 million people worldwide are afflicted with Lupus. Lupus is a chronic disease that affects the immune and integumentary systems, and in more serious cases, other body systems. Lupus causes the body’s immune system to produce autoantibodies, which attack healthy body tissues (What Is Lupus?). In mild cases, only the integumentary system is affected, but as Lupus increases in severity, more organs and organ systems are affected. The severity of the disease and the systems affected depend on the type of Lupus.
The different types of Lupus are Cutaneous Lupus, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Drug-Induced Lupus, and Neonatal Lupus (Types of Lupus).
Cutaneous Lupus affects only the body’s integument; it is the mildest form of Lupus, as well as the first form ever diagnosed. Generally, symptoms of this type of Lupus are easy to control. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is the most common form of Lupus; it is what people usually refer to when they use the term “Lupus.
” This form of Lupus is much more severe and life-threatening than Cutaneous Lupus. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus can affect any body tissue; because it is an autoimmune disease, these issues are simply destroyed. About 90% of the people diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus are women of childbearing age.
Another form of Lupus is Drug-Induced. As denoted by its name, Drug-Induced Lupus occurs when a certain drug is taken for an extended pperiod Two of the drugs that are known to cause Drug-Induced Lupus are hydralazine and procainamide. Unlike Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, this form of Lupus is very rare and more common in men than women.
Neonatal Lupus is, like Drug-Induced Lupus, very rare. Neonatal Lupus affects infants; however, the mother does not have to have any form of Lupus. Only about 40% of infants with Neonatal Lupus have mothers that have Lupus (Types of Lupus).
Although there are several different types of Lupus, they share one common cause. The symptoms of Lupus are caused by the damage being done to healthy body tissues; this is because the immune system cannot tell the difference between healthy tissue and foreign invaders (bacteria, etc.). The cause of this confusion in the Immune system is unknown, although researchers believe several factors can contribute to the cause, including stress, UV exposure, and hormone levels (What Causes Lupus).
The symptoms of Lupus differ between each type. As the severity of Lupus increases, the number and severity of symptoms and effects increase as well. In Cutaneous Lupus, where only the integument is affected, a thick, scaly, red rash is present in the cervical and facial areas. If the rash is present on the scalp, hair loss may occur (Types of Lupus). While the symptoms of Cutaneous Lupus are limited to the integument, symptoms of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus can be experienced in every area of the body. Common symptoms include joint pain, fever, rashes, loss of circulation in digital extremities, mouth ulcers, and swollen glands. Drug-Induced Lupus has similar symptoms to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; however, if the medication stops being taken, symptoms will go away. Neonatal Lupus can result in a rash, anemia, and heart problems (Types of Lupus). All types of Lupus have flares and remissions, so the rashes and other symptoms may disappear for a certain amount of time, then reappear (What Is Lupus?)
Research on Lupus is going on as researchers try to find a cure. As of now, there are ways to treat the symptoms of Lupus, but there is no cure. For mild cases of Lupus, like Cutaneous Lupus, symptoms can be controlled by over-the-counter pain relievers, as well as antianti-inflammatorygs. For severe Lupus that affects body systems other than the integumentary system, drugs that calm the immune system are administered (Lupus Treatments).
In 2011, a treatment for Lupus was approved; this was the first FDA-approved Lupus treatment in 50 years. Benlysta, or Belimumab, is the name of the Lupus treatment; there are severe side effects with the medication. These side effects include infection, heart problems, and mental health problems (Benlysta).
Even though there has been a medication developed, the search for an actual cure continues. According to the Alliance for Lupus Research, scientists are researching B and T cells, and how to keep overproduction of these cells from happening. Research also centers around preventing overactive immune reactions (Alliance For Lupus Research).
In conclusion, Lupus is a fairly common disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s healthy tissues. The disease can range from mild to severe, and there is no cure.
However, there are ways to treat the symptoms of Lupus, and hopefully, considering the extensive research being done, a cure will be developed shortly.