Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Few Things

The systemic lupus erythematosus can occur in either sex, at any age, but it is known that lupus affects more women than men. It is 10 to 15 times more frequently among adult females than among adult men, and that is why sometimes, systemic lupus erythematosus is called a woman’s disease.

Studies revealed that before puberty, there is about one male affected for every three females, and in the adult years, this ratio changes: 10 females are affected for every male.
Also, after menopause, the studies show that there are 8 females for every male affected.

There are some medications that can produce the drug-induced lupus. This lupus appears more often in men, because these drugs are more frequently used in men. We can mention here procainamide, which is used to treat different types of heart abnormalities, and hydralazine which is used to control high blood pressure.

Seems that the symptoms of the systemic lupus erythematosus are the same in men and women too, at least at the beginning of the disease. There are studies that reached the conclusion that there is more severe renal, neurologic, and vascular disease in men with systemic lupus erythematosus than in woman. But, more research needs to be done in that direction, so, at this time, there isn’t enough evidence to sustain there are more severe symptoms in men than in women.

For years, there were made studies that involved the estrogens- female hormones- and the androgens( male hormones). There was seen there is a difference in the way that androgens are metabolized by male and female lupus patients. There also is the suspicion that women with lupus metabolize androgens at a faster rate than women without lupus.

It is known that lower testosterone levels may predispose men to autoimmune-like diseases. There are drugs that lower testosterone levels, and are associated with rheumatic symptoms, but have not been specifically associated with the onset of systemic lupus erythematosus.

Because the systemic lupus erythematosus is sometimes called a woman’s disease, there can appear the misconception that men who have lupus are less masculine. That fact is not true, it was proved that men with lupus are fertile, sexually active and potent, and some of them are very hairy too. Men with lupus are not different hormonally than the others that don’t have this disease.

Sometimes, having lupus can be a situation pretty difficult to cope with. Men affected by this disease may no longer be able to perform or progress in their work environment, or they may not be able to work anymore and support a family. The cultural and societal expectations of men put him in a difficult situation. This fact, the inability of work and earn a living can cause serious emotional and mental stress for him.
In what concerns women, it doesn’t always happen in the same way. Women which have lupus are more affected by the symptoms that appear, like rashes, hair loss, and weight gain.

It is known there are lupus support groups, and it is a logical thing there are more women in these groups, because lupus affects mostly women. It is important that men affected by lupus try and integrate in that groups, because in this way, they will get help for moving forward.

By Groshan Fabiola

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