May is the month that we recognize and spread awareness for the mysterious disease of Lupus. Today we will mostly touch on Systemic Lupus Erythematosis, which we will call Lupus in this article. Lupus is an ongoing, chronic, inflammatory, relapsing disease that often affects multiple systems within the body. It generally involves the skin, joints, kidneys, serosal membranes, but can involve any part of the body. The word Lupus means wolf in Latin, and is so named because of the destructive injuries brought to mind by the bite of a wolf. Before the mid-19th century it was known that any involvement of ulceration or necrosis of the lower limbs or face was loosely labeled as Lupus.
There has been quite a bit of research since then and we now know more about the condition but there are still so many questions left on how to treat this disease, what causes it and coping mechanisms for the patient and family involved. Even though this disease has been known for a very long time, there still are only a few medications available to help ease the symptoms, or delay the frequency of flares. Medications like chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, Cytoxen, Methotrexate, Benlysta, Imuran, aspirin, ibuprofen, and the most common is corticosteroids like Prednisone and Medrol, There is no cure and the search continues. These medications may be helpful to ease symptoms but will not cure the disease and they do not come without any possible side effects or consequences to the body. You must be supervised by a physician when under these, or any medications.
Some people experience fatigue, joint pain, headaches, memory problems, balance problems, fevers, butterfly rash, rashes when out in the sun or around UV lighting, shortness of breath, dry eyes, chest pain, skin lesions, cold hands and feet and more. Flares can consist of one or a combination of symptoms. No two patient's are alike which is part of the issue with finding out what causes Lupus, diagnosing and what treatments to use.
If you have a family or friend be supportive. Sometimes even something as simple as lending an ear or offering to bring lunch or dinner over can be a great help to the person with Lupus. Try and be mindful and remember, just because someone does not look sick, it does not mean they are healthy. A support system is critical to the every day challenges that can be faced for someone with Lupus.
There are many ways to help raise awareness for this disease whether it be helping with an event, running in a race, or volunteering your time, the opportunities are plentiful. The more awareness available the more research can be completed. To learn more, or see how you can help visit www.lupus.org.