When you do a search of chronic illnesses on the Internet, one illness that is commonly left out is Lupus. Lupus is, as defined by Lupus.org: “A chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (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 simple terms, Lupus is a chronic illness where your immune system, which is typically in place to fight off bad things that invade the body, such as viruses and germs, goes haywire and begins to attack your own body. Your immune system can no longer distinguish between good and healthy tissue and antibodies and bad foreign invaders. As a result, it can cause the sick individual to have multiple symptoms and health complications as their body wages war on itself.
Some of the most common symptoms of lupus of Lupus are:
- Extreme fatigue (tiredness)
- Painful or swollen joints
- 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
Lupus is often called a “cruel mystery” because no two people with the illness present with the same symptoms or experience the same issues. No two Lupus patients are alike. While one patient may have internal organ problems, another may only experience the extreme fatigue and swollen joints.
Here’s some quick facts about Lupus and how it affects the population (via Lupus.org):
- Our research estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus. The actual number may be higher; however, there have been no large-scale studies to show the actual number of people in the U.S. living with lupus.
- More than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually across the country.
- It is believed that 5 million people throughout the world have a form of lupus.
- Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age (15-44). However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too. Most people will develop lupus between the ages of 15-44.
- Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians.
- People of all races and ethnic groups can develop lupus.
Lupus is a chronic illness that affects not only the person with the illness, but also those around him/her, such as family and caregivers. During the month of May, the people dedicated to the Lupus fight are encouraged to wear purple. More research needs to be done about this illness so that the quality of life for those involved can be improved.
The Birmingham Public Library has several books that can assist someone wanting to read more about Lupus:
The Lupus Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Guide fro Patients and Families
Lupus Q&A: Everything You Need to Know
The Lupus Book: A Guide for Patients and Their Families
Coping with Lupus: A Practical Guide to Alleviating the Challenges of Systematic Lupus Erythematosus
For more information about Lupus:
Lupus Foundation of America, Mid-South Chapter (Serves Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama)
4004 Hillsboro Pike, Suite 216-B
Nashville, TN 37215
(615) 298-2273, or toll free at 877-865-8787