Gearing Up for Lupus Awareness Month

Doctor's notes from lupus lab testsLupus Awareness Month is only a month away, which means that many people are getting ready to wear their purple to show support for the people living with this disease and innovative research projects for the cure (like new lupus clinical trials!). As you may already know, the primary goal of Lupus Awareness Month is to raise further awareness and help educate more people about this chronic autoimmune disease. This is a worthy cause which has been nationally recognized since 1977!

What Causes Lupus?

To put it plainly, lupus is an autoimmune disease. What does this mean exactly? Well in the average person, their immune system creates antibodies which are capable of combating foreign invaders such as viruses, bacteria, and foreign waste. On the other hand, there are some people who have immune systems which start to create antibodies that attack healthy tissues and cells within the body. This leads to the development of an autoimmune disease like lupus (there are a wide range of other autoimmune disorders as well). Given the nature of this disease, lupus is referred to as systemic, which means that the symptoms can affect most parts of the patient’s body including vital organs.

More Than One Type of Lupus

There are actually several different types of lupus, but the most common one is known as systemic lupus. The vital organs that can be affected by this chronic autoimmune disease include the lungs, heart, kidneys, skin, and brain. Some other parts of the body, like the blood and the joints, can also experience problems with lupus.

In nearly 20 percent of all diagnosed cases, the patient’s eyes are affected by this disease. However, the other types of lupus include drug-induced lupus and Cutaneous lupus. Incredibly, there have been cases where people developed lupus as the result of taking certain prescription medications (drug induced lupus). On the other hand, the symptoms of Cutaneous lupus only affect the patients skin producing rashes and sores.

(There are more than 5 million people who are living with lupus, and 90 percent of these people are female…)

The Symptoms of Lupus

The symptoms of lupus can vary from case to case, but there are a few general indications to keep an eye out for. Common symptoms associated with this autoimmune disease include fever, fatigue, headaches, unusual sensitivity to light, and even hair loss. Now, one of the most well-known indications of lupus is the butterfly shaped rash that appears across some patients’ cheeks and nose. In fact, this is why the butterfly has been chosen as one of the symbols for lupus awareness.

Lupus has been referred to as the great imitator, due to the fact that the symptoms tend to mimic those caused by other diseases. Unsurprisingly, this can make it rather difficult to accurately diagnose someone with lupus. In fact, many people may go years before they actually have a diagnosis of lupus confirmed, as other diseases need to be ruled out beforehand.

Advocacy groups, like the Lupus Foundation of America, are happy to support public awareness events like Lupus Awareness Month and World Lupus Day each year. It is through their continued efforts that more people are learning about diseases like lupus. Knowledge is power, and there is now more resources available on lupus than ever before.