LUPUS An autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own healthy cells, lupus has no known origin. While its symptoms are primarily recognizable, they can often mimic other diseases, thereby delaying accurate diagnosis. Joint pain, poor circulation and a telltale rash are just three of myriad symptoms indicative of lupus, a disease that inevitably impacts major organs by way of compromising the body’s defenses, as well as through invasive steroid treatment that weakens bones.
Lupus tricks the body into thinking there is an enemy that needs to be attacked; at this point, the body loses sight of an enemy cell and its own healthy cells, effectively eradicating all cells. Because the body cannot readily differentiate between good and bad cells, it sets off on a killing frenzy until the haywire antibodies secure themselves to antigens, creating autoimmune problems. It is believed that over five million people throughout the world have a form of Lupus. Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age.
However, Men, children, and teenagers develop Lupus too. More than 16,000 new cases of Lupus are reported annually across the country Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body such as skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body. Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years. In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs.
Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues and creates auto antibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These auto antibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body. Systemic lupus is the most common form of lupus, and is what most people mean when they refer to “lupus. ” Systemic lupus can be mild or severe.
Some of the body functions related to lupus include inflammation of the kidneys, which can affect the body’s ability to filter waste from the blood an increase in blood pressure in the lung an inflammation of the nervous system and brain, which can cause memory problems, confusion, headaches, and strokes inflammation in the brain’s blood vessels, which can cause high fevers, seizures, behavioral changes, hardening of the arteries, where a buildup of deposits on coronary artery walls that can lead to a heart attack.
Inflammation of the Kidneys is one of the most serious symptoms of Lupus. When the Kidney are not working properly they leak protein and is eliminated through urination with the lack of protein causes fluid retention and causes swelling or Edema in the lower extremities. This symptom is one of the first signs of lupus nephritis. Lupus affects the kidney functions to remove waste products and excess fluids from the body. A biopsy is used to determine the extent and severity of kidney disease.
The tissue gathered is then examined through a microscope to determine inflammation and scarring. Once all the factors are gathered such as amount of protein in the urine, reduction of kidney function, and the Biopsy of the kidney drug therapy may be used to control inflammation and suppress the activity of the immune system. Although high dose of medications may have many side effects when used at high does it is needed to get the inflammation under control and then can be tapered down to a low does with lower side affects to prevent further damage to the kidneys.
Although they have developed many medications to control the flares of lupus on the function of kidneys many people still have progressive loss of kidney function and sometimes have complete failure of both kidneys dialysis and even a kidney transplant may be done. Dialysis is where blood passes through either a machine with filters called hemodialysis or through the abdominal cavity called peritoneal dialysis and the abdomen subsequently removes it.
Dr. Sergio Schwartzman, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan notes that in the past, the focus has been on trying to suppress the immune system. The goal for researchers is to find a treatment that is significantly less toxic as a means by which to decrease the need for steroids. Ironically, the very treatment that allows an individual to lead a relatively normal life is often responsible for long-term, serious side effects.
Steroids, with particular attention paid to Prednisone, have the capacity to suppress the body’s immune system, thus maintaining control over the spread of antibodies; however, it also wreaks havoc upon internal organs and bone mass. As such, treatment options have shifted from relying heavily upon such corticosteroids to other immunosuppressive drugs, as different organs are impacted at varying degrees, treatment must be closely monitored when steroids are prescribed for lupus. Current treatment often includes a combination of drugs. This ecent technological breakthrough has effectively set the foundation for a new class of agents that may effectively treat the disease without causing the severe side effects associated with current therapy. There have been many advances in understanding what causes lupus nephritis and improvements in treatment have given more people the chance at living a normal life span. BIBLIOGRAPHY Bowser, Andrew (1997, December). New Treatment for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus May Be on Horizon. Dermatology Times, pp. 6. Geiger, Debbe (1998, May).
Lupus In this mysterious disease, the body turns against itself. Newsday, pp. B15. Kasnic, Tracey A. ; Wallerstedt, Cheryl L. ; Gilson, George J. (1997, December). Systemic lupus erythematosus (Hematologic and Autoimmune Disorders). Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing, vol. 11, pp. 46(11). Kinney, Anthony (1998). Lupus. http://www. mssc. edu/biology/B305/GTS/ss98/lupus/lupus. htm Petri, Michelle, M. D. , M. P. H. (no date). Treatment of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: An Update. American Academy of Family Physicians, http://www. aafp. org/afp/980600ap/petri. html