Saturday, May 1, 2010

What is Lupus?

Lupus is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease.  It strikes women more than men.  Primarily women of child bearing ages but it does affect children and teenagers.  Women of color are 2-3 times more likely to get it, but it does affect people of all races.  In lupus, the immune system has gone haywire and begins attacking the body.  It can attack anywhere...the skin, joints, vital can be can kill.

Lupus is not contagious. And just because I don't look sick to you doesn't mean I am not.  

The most common symptoms of lupus, which are the same for females and males, are:

  • headaches
  • painful or swollen joints
  • fever
  • anemia (low numbers of red blood cells or hemoglobin, or low total blood volume)
  • swelling (edema) in feet, legs, hands, and/or around eyes
  • pain in chest on deep breathing (pleurisy)
  • butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose
  • sun- or light-sensitivity (photosensitivity)
  • hair loss
  • abnormal blood clotting
  • fingers turning white and/or blue when cold (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
  • mouth or nose ulcers

Many of these symptoms occur in other illnesses besides lupus. In fact, lupus is sometimes called "the great imitator" because its symptoms are often like the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, blood disorders, fibromyalgia, diabetes, thyroid problems, Lyme disease, and a number of heart, lung, muscle, and bone diseases.

I am open to educating others about lupus and how it affects my life...the struggles...the joys...the agonies...the triumphs.  

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