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Lupus Awareness Month

May is Lupus Awareness Month

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects nearly 1.5 million Americans and countless others around the world. Of those who develop Lupus, more than 90 percent are females between the ages of 15 and 45.

Although the cause is uncertain, Lupus is believed to be passed down from generation to generation through family genes. There are exceptions, though, because it is known to affect certain individuals with no family history connecting them to others who have had the disease. In some cases, Lupus is triggered by viral infections, traumatic events, stress, certain drugs, and ultraviolet light.

Lupus Awareness Month calls attention to the need for more research and understanding of Lupus. It highlights the need for finding ways to combat the disease and to educate the general public about how it affects those who have it and those who may have the genes of ancestors who have suffered from Lupus in the past.

Lupus is called the great imitator because it has symptoms that are similar to other illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Lyme disease and other heart, lung, and muscle diseases. Symptoms include headaches, depression, anemia, ulcers of the mouth, and rashes.

Below is a list of facts for Lupus Awareness Month compiled by examiner.com. Please feel free to share these with family and friends.

  1. Neonatal lupus is a rare condition that affects infants of women who have lupus and is caused by antibodies from the mother that affect the infant in the womb. With proper testing, physicians can now identify most at-risk mothers, and the infant can be treated at or before birth.
  2. Most people with lupus will experience joint pain without swelling. However, lupus is not a form of arthritis.
  3. Lupus can run in families, and research suggests that genes are involved in the development of lupus. However, lupus also can develop in people with no family history of the disease.
  4. Lupus is not related to HIV/AIDS. In lupus, the immune system is overactive, while in HIV or AIDS, the immune system is under active.
  5. Some of the factors that may trigger lupus in people who have the genes that make them prone to develop the disease include infections, ultraviolet light, extreme stress, certain prescription drugs, and hormones.
  6. There is no single laboratory test that can determine whether a person does or does not have lupus. Diagnosing lupus involves analyzing the results of several lab tests that are used to monitor the immune system, along with a review of the person’s entire medical history.
  7. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can damage any organ in the body and can cause life-threatening consequences.
  8. In lupus, the immune system loses its ability to tell the difference between foreign substances, such as viruses or bacteria, and the body’s healthy tissue. The result is the production of autoantibodies that attack healthy tissue.
  9. In lupus, the immune system loses its ability to tell the difference between foreign substances, such as viruses or bacteria, and the body’s healthy tissue. The result is the production of autoantibodies that attack healthy tissue.
  10. Ninety percent of the people who develop lupus are females. Males also can develop lupus and their disease can be more severe in some organs.
  11. African Americans, Hispanics/Latinas, Asians, and Native Americans are two or three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians; however, lupus affects people of all races and ethnicities.
  12. Lupus develops most often between ages 15 and 44. However, lupus can develop among males and females of any age, including children and teens.
  13. Only ten percent of people with lupus will have a close relative who already has lupus or may develop lupus. Some people with lupus also will have a relative who has lupus or another autoimmune disease.
  14. The most common symptoms of lupus are: extreme fatigue or exhaustion, headaches, painful or swollen joints, fever, a butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose, sun- or light-sensitivity, and hair loss.
  15. Systemic lupus is the most common type of lupus. Systemic lupus can affect any organ system of the body, including the heart, kidneys, lungs, blood, joints, and skin.
  16. Cutaneous lupus is a form of lupus that is limited to the skin and can cause rashes or sores. Drug-induced lupus is a lupus-like disease caused by taking specific prescription drugs. The symptoms usually disappear within six months after these medications are stopped.
  17. About five percent of the children born to individuals with lupus will develop the illness. At present, there is no genetic screening test that can determine who might go on to develop lupus later in life.
  18. In approximately 10 percent of all lupus cases, individuals will have symptoms and signs of more than one connective tissue disease. A physician may use the term "overlap syndrome" or "mixed connective tissue disease" to describe this condition.
  19. Lupus is typically treated by a doctor called a rheumatologist, a specialist in conditions that affect the joints and muscles.
  20. Depending on how lupus affects their body, some people with lupus may need additional care from specialists, like a dermatologist for skin problems, a nephrologist for kidney disease, or a cardiologist for heart complications.
  21. Since many symptoms of lupus mimic those of other illnesses, lupus often can take three to five years to diagnose. Symptoms of lupus can come and go over time, which makes a definite diagnosis more difficult.
  22. The diagnosis of lupus is based on a combination of physical symptoms and laboratory results. Tests may be taken over several months before a diagnosis is confirmed.
  23. There has not been a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration specifically for the treatment of lupus since 1958. However, positive results from two recent clinical studies give hope that a new treatment for lupus may soon available within the next 12 to 18 months.
  24. With current methods of therapy, 80 to 90 percent of people with non-organ threatening lupus can look forward to a normal lifespan; however, there is no cure for lupus.
  25. More than 90 percent of people with lupus will experience joint and/or muscle pain. Treatments are available that can help to control the pain associated with lupus.
  26. It is estimated that as many as 40 percent of all people with lupus, and as many as two-thirds of all children with lupus, will develop kidney complications that require medical care and treatment.
  27. Approximately two-thirds of people with lupus will develop some type of skin complication. This often is in the form of a rash or sores, most of which will appear on sun-exposed areas, such as face, ears, neck, arms, and legs.
  28. Approximately 95 percent of people with lupus suffer from some form of oral involvement that will affect their mouth or gums. Ulcers on the roof of the mouth or in the nose can be a sign of lupus among people who are not yet diagnosed with the disease.
  29. Eye disease occurs in approximately 20 percent of people with lupus. The disease can affect the eyeball, the retina, and the muscles that control eye movement.
  30. Lupus can be expensive to manage and live with. A recent study found that the average annual cost to provide healthcare for a person with lupus was $12,643, and was nearly $21,000 when lost productivity on the job due to illness is included.

Lupus Awareness Month is observed in communities across the country, and around the world, that band together to help try and solve the mysteries surrounding the disease.

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