Understanding, Diagnosing, and Treating Lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease which affects multiple organ systems within the body. It debilitates the immune system of the body and causes it to attack the healthy tissues and blood cells in place of external infectious organisms. This can lead to the patient experiencing pain, inflammation, and various other problems and complications that can range from mild to life-threatening. Here, we will shed light on a few aspects of this disease.  

Different types of lupus  

There are four main types of Lupus disease. They are: 

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) – SLE is the most common type of lupus and what people generally mean when referring to the condition. It can affect any part of the body and mainly present between the age of 15 to 40. SLE generally occurs more often in women and tends to present during child-bearing years. Diagnosing the disease is often a challenge as most people exhibit different symptoms.

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus– It is also known as cutaneous lupus erythematosus as it primarily affects the skin. It causes various kinds of lesions, rashes, and inflammation on the face, scalp, and other body parts. Over time, the rashes can thicken, increase in size, and become more prominent. Scaling and blistering can be present, as well. In time, this disease can progress to systemic type as well. Treatments can help to clear up the rashes, but you always face the risk of flare ups.  

Drug-Induced Lupus – This type of lupus surfaces from medication intolerance. With drug-induced lupus you might find symptoms similar to systemic lupus, but organ involvement is less likely. The disease can go away if the drug that caused the disease is stopped. Few medications that have been established as causing drug-induced lupus are methyldopa( Aldomet), isoniazid (INH), hydralazine (Apresoline), quinidine (Quinaglute), procainamide (Procan), carbamazepine (Tegretol) and phenytoin (Dilantin). 

Neonatal Lupus– This rare condition is not a true form of lupus. It affects newborn babies whose mothers are diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus or diseases similar in nature. Infants diagnosed with the disease commonly exhibit congenital heart and circulatory problems as well as liver conditions and skin affections. Prompt medical intervention is critical.  

Causes of Lupus  

The exact cause of the disease is not yet known, but it is believed to be caused by the combination of hormonal, genetic, and environmental factors.  The condition is neither contagious nor hereditary.  

Symptoms of Lupus  

The symptoms of lupus are never the same but vary from one person to another. It can also start subtle and gradually progress. Nevertheless, there are some common symptoms that are prevalent in most of the patients suffering from the disease.

They are: 

  • Joint pain and/or swelling
  • Feeling of perpetual and severe fatigue 
  • Unexplained fever 
  • Swelling in the legs and feet and fluid retention and accumulation in the body 
  • Skin rashes, mainly a butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks 
  • Pain in the chest while breathing
  • Hair loss 
  • Seizures 
  • Sores in the mouth or nose 
  • Sensitivity to the sun and any other source of light 
  • Pale or purple fingers or toes from cold or stress

Diagnosing Lupus  

Lupus is quite tough to diagnose because of the variation of its symptoms in different individuals. There is not one specific test that can be used to diagnose lupus making it a disease of exclusion.  To diagnose it, most doctors resort to a combination of physical examination, observation, and numerous blood tests. Few blood tests that are commonly used to diagnose the disease are: 

  • Anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) test. 
  • Anti-double-stranded DNA antibody test. 
  • Anti-Ro antibody test. 
  • Antiphospholipid antibody test. 
  • Complement level test. 
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test. 
  • Kidney and liver function tests.  
  • Blood cell counts.  
  • Various tests like X-rays, ultrasound scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or a computerized tomography (CT) scan can also be conducted to evaluate bones and joints as well as organs.  

Treatment of Lupus 

There is no cure for lupus, however, it can be treated and managed to a large extent. The treatments show a significant positive impact if started in the early stages of the disease.  

The treatment plan is tailored uniquely for each person, as most individuals exhibit different symptoms. The treatment is best managed with a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. Here not only the symptoms of the disease are handled, but also preventive measures are taken to help manage the disease.  

Living with lupus can be harsh and debilitating. Thus, for treatment, one must always seek help from credible Lupus Treatment centers like the ‘Bridge Health Recovery Center’ (https://thebridgerecoverycenter.com/) which offers an integrated, comprehensive and personalized approach to the treatment.  A significant need for this is there because it is seen that the medicine which was treating the disease can start to have serious side-effects long term.

Some of the common medications to treat the disease include: 

  • Immunosuppressant drugs. 
  • Pain relief medications. 
  • Corticosteroids. 
  • Anti-malaria drugs. 
  • BLyS-specific inhibitors 
  • Medicines for specific symptoms like osteoporosis. 
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. 
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs 
  • Biological therapies 
  • Steroids injections 
  • Anti-hypertensive drugs.  
  • Medications and treatment are changed and adjusted as the treatment progress because of the dynamic and unpredictable nature of both the disease and its treatment.  

Natural and Alternative Treatment Methods  

There are plenty of natural remedies available to help tackle the disease, which can boost your efforts to heal and keep the illness to its lowest in any person suffering from it. This can advance your medical treatment. Some examples of alternative treatments are: 

Acupuncture and homeopathy have been quite effective in arresting the disease and providing relief to patients suffering from it. 

A highly effective way has been to follow an anti-inflammatory diet, which means not eating foods that aggravate symptoms and eating more of the foods that work as natural remedies for the disease. Foods to avoid are gluten, trans fat, added sugar, high-sodium foods, alcohol, an excess of caffeine, certain legumes, etc. Recommended foods are organic, unprocessed food, raw vegetables, wild-caught fish, bone broth, avocado, food high in antioxidants, olive oil, coconut oil, various nuts and seeds, raw milk, melon, water, herbal tea green tea, cucumber, etc.  

Wrapping up  

Lupus is a chronic disease that can be hard to diagnose and treat. It is also difficult to live with the disease as it has a severe physical and psychological impact. It needs comprehensive treatment and plenty of love and moral support as well. In-Depth research is being conducted on the disease, giving hope for better treatment options. For more information on the best ways to help a lupus patient get in touch with us today.  

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