What is Lupus?
Lupus is an auto immune disease which means that the body’s immune system attacks its own tissue. The result of these attacks is chronic inflammation and although the severity of Lupus can vary greatly, it can ultimately be a fatal disease. Lupus is a condition where the immune system creates anti bodies, which circulate in the blood stream and attack various tissues and organs in the body. Some times only the tissue of the skin is affected but in other cases the internal organs become targeted. Cases where only skin tissue is affected is called discoid lupus, but the more pervasive and serious form is referred to as systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE for short. SLE commonly attacks the heart, lungs, kidneys, joints and nervous system.
What causes Lupus?
Like all auto immune diseases, little is known about the causes and triggers of Lupus. Experts tend to agree that family history is a contributing factor although this is an accepted characteristic present in all auto immune diseases rather than a specific trait of lupus. One area of particular interest for researchers lies in “drug induced lupus” which is explained at http://www.lupuspage.com Some drugs are known to stimulate the immune system and thus trigger systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE. These drugs include:
-hydralazine (which is used to treat high blood pressure)
-quinidine and procainamide (which are both used for regulating heart beat)
-phentoin (which is used to control epilepsy)
-isoniazide (which is used to treat tuberculosis)
-penicillamine (which is used to treat arthritis)
Because the cause of drug induced lupus is known, these cases can usually be treated successfully by discontinuing the use of medication.
What are the symptoms of Lupus?
The most recognizable symptom if lupus is the “butterfly” rash that occurs predominately in cases of discoid lupus. The rash is red and often appears on the nose and cheeks. Pictures of this trademark rash are available at http://www.lupus247.com Apart from the possibility of some scarring and possible hair loss, the rash is not very serious.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a more complex form of lupus and because many different organs can be involved, a variety of symptoms can present. Like many auto immune disorders fatigue and muscle aches can occur but the propensity for infection and bleeding is a serious danger. Organ damage and organ failure are major causes for concern and there is an increased occurrence of other auto immune disease such as arthritis.
By Steve Joseph
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008
What is Lupus?