Last modified: June 6, 2019
Authored By: Dr. Richard Honaker
Reviewed By: Dr. Maham Majeed
Our doctors get a lot of questions about Lupus from our members. This is not a medical coincidence either. Did you know that around 1.5 million Americans have some form of Lupus? Five million globally! But what is lupus? What causes it and how do you treat it?
To answer these pressing healthcare questions I sat down with one of our esteemed physicians, Dr. Maham Majeed, Director of Medical Affairs at Your Doctors Online. Let’s take a deeper look and hopefully help you understand this medical condition further.
What is Lupus?
Lupus or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune condition that can affect any organ system of the body. It commonly involves effects on the joints, kidneys, blood, skin, heart, and lungs.
Is Lupus common?
Annual incidence is estimated at 1 to 10 per 100,000 population. The Lupus Foundation of America states that around 1.5 million Americans and 5 million people worldwide are affected by a form of Lupus. Hence it’s considered common to a certain extent.
Is it more common in women or in men?
Lupus is more common in women with more than 90% of women being affected as compared to men.
What causes Lupus?
SLE is an autoimmune condition that involves generation of autoantibodies that basically attack various systems of the body, to put it simply. The body’s immune system makes products, which trigger a chain reaction that can lead to the body harming itself. Many factors come into play including genetic, environmental, hormonal, ethnic and immunoregulatory.
What signs and symptoms would be a cause for concern when it comes to Lupus?
Rash (butterfly-shaped on the face is characteristic), joint pain, muscle aches, fatigue caused by hematological abnormalities, fever, weight change, sunburn, blood in urine, high blood pressure, confusion, delirium, headaches, seizures, shortness of breath, abdominal pain and/or chest pain may or may not be present. If a combination of similar signs and symptoms becomes evident, it’s crucial to further investigate.
Can you treat Lupus with DIY home remedies?
No, you cannot treat it with home remedies. However, several sources claim that certain home remedies may prove useful and there is no harm in trying them.
Moreover, these may prevent flares in someone who already has the disease. These include an anti-inflammatory diet incorporating organic, unprocessed food, raw vegetables, and natural antioxidants.
Exercise, stress reduction, a regular sleep regimen, aromatherapy, acupuncture, and proper skin care with sun protection may be of benefit. Supplements such as Omega 3 fish oil, DHEA, and Vitamin D, plus coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, probiotics, flaxseed, ginger, honey, basil leaves, and Epsom salt might help.
What is the treatment for Lupus?
Treatment includes medications such as NSAIDs, corticosteroids, anti-malarial drugs, immunosuppressant and biologic DMARD therapy.
Should pregnant women be more concerned about Lupus?
Yes, they should be. Pregnancy with lupus is considered high risk with a greater chance of fetal loss, pre-term birth, neonatal lupus syndrome and intrauterine growth restriction affecting the fetus. Mothers usually have to deal with disease flares, preeclampsia, and other complications.
Treatment options are limited due to side effects as well. Close monitoring throughout pregnancy is required for the best outcome.
Can Lupus kill you?
Yes, it can. Although Lupus is generally not a fatal disease and many people affected go on to have a normal lifespan, it can involve severe conditions that can be life-threatening. Common causes of death in Lupus include renal failure, cardiovascular disease, and infection.
Do you have questions about Lupus or any other medical condition? We have answers. Connect with our doctors online via our Free Doctor Chat today.
Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.