April 02, 2009

What is Lupus?

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease marked by its effect on various parts of the body, including the joints, skin, blood, and kidneys. It is a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks its own cells and tissues, resulting in pain, inflammation, and often damage to organs. For many people, the disease is mild and affects only a few organs. For others, however, the disease can be severe and even life threatening.
Lupus involves the immune system. The immune system makes antibodies that work to protect the body against foreign substances like viruses and bacteria. Such foreign bodies are called antigens.  When a person has lupus, his or her body is unable to determine the difference between antigens and the individual’s cells and body tissues. As such, the immune system creates antibodies against the individual’s own tissues. These antibodies are called autoantibodies. 
There are four types of lupus.
1. Discoid - affects the skin.  It is characterized by a rash that may appear on the face, neck, or scalp. Individuals with this condition may also experience mouth or nose ulcers, as well as photosensitivity.
2. Systemic - can affect nearly any organ or system of the body, such as the skin, blood, nervous system, kidneys, heart, joints, and lungs.  Some individuals with the disease have only one or two organs or tissues affected, while others may have many affected organs, systems, or tissues.  Systemic lupus usually includes periods of remission as well as periods of activity (known as a flare).
3. Drug Induced - caused by the use of certain drugs. Hydralazine and procainamide are the two drugs most frequently connected with the disorder. Only a very small number of people taking these drugs develop the condition and the symptoms generally disappear upon discontinuing the medication.
4. Neonatal lupus - affects newborns born to women who have systemic lupus. Their symptoms include heart defects, skin problems or problems with the liver.  This tends to be rare.

Though the disease can affect many parts of the body, individuals usually experience symptoms in only a few organs. There is no known cure for lupus.
My personal experience has been with discoid and systemic symptoms.  Future posts will center mostly around systemic since my discoid symptoms were only present the first few years and I’ve been free of these symptoms for 12 years now.

2 Comments So Far...

September 20, 2011 Kathy

This is going to sound strange, but my vet thinks my dog may have Lupus! From the sounds of your blog, which I appreciate very much!), it could possibly be Discoid. He has mouth ulcers, and his nose is ‘messed up’ (so that could be ulcers too) and he has many ‘hot spots’ on his belly. So far he is treating him with Prednisone, and an antibiotic. He also has him taking vitamin E and wants him to take vitamin B3. Just wondering…did your doctor recommend for you to be on any special vitamins? Thanks! Glad your currently symptom free. God Bless, Kathy

November 21, 2011 Shari

You recommend no dairy, is soy a better choice, I am not allergic to soy

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