Have you ever found yourself surrounded by something that you knew very little about but then suddenly bombarded by it and it is as if the universe is trying to tell you something and is using all media mediums in order to enlighten you on this topic? It first started when I was flicking through channels and was captivated by what I thought was another “medical” commercial for disease X and for medication Y. But then something clicked and I tuned in to the commercial to hear the announcer speak about Lupus. Then on the metro and in magazines I began to notice more posters and ads for Lupus and began to realize that I know very little about this autoimmune disease that 1.5 million Americans are living with and that strikes primarily women of childbearing age (between 15 and 44). Unfortunately, the topic of Lupus, didn’t really hit home until my son informed me that his former second grade teacher, who is only 27 years old, was diagnosed with the disease. So, for all our readers out there, who see the ads in magazines, on tv and on the metro and wonder “What exactly is Lupus?,” here is the 4-11 on Lupus. It is, as Joe Friday would say, “just the facts” about this disease courtesy of the Lupus Foundation of America (www.lupus.org).
Let’s start with the basis and break it down:
What is Lupus?
Lupus, known as the “wolf” in Greek, is a chronic autoimmune disease that damages any part of the body (skin, joints, blood, and/or organs inside the body, particularly the kidneys).
Right, so let’s break that down…chronic means that the signs and symptoms last longer then six weeks and often for many years. Autoimmune, (“auto” means “self”), means your immune system cannot differentiate between your body’s healthy tissue and viruses, bacteria and germs (aka “foreign invaders) and therefore the body creates auto antibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. This results in the auto antibodies causing inflammation, pain and damage in various parts of the body. Lupus is also a disease of flares (i.e. the symptoms worsen and you feel ill) and remissions (the symptoms improve and you feel better). The disease can range from mild to life-threatening and with good medical care, most people with lupus can lead a full life. There is no “exact” cause of Lupus but researchers have noted that genes, environment and hormones all can play a role in developing Lupus.
Other facts on Lupus:
Lupus is NOT contagious, not even with sexual contact. You can’t “catch” lupus or give it someone else.
Lupus is NOT like or related to cancer.
Lupus is NOT like or related to HIV or AIDS. In HIV or AIDS the immune system is underactive; in lupus, the immune system is overactive.
Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age, however men, children, and teenagers can develop lupus.
People of all races and ethnic groups can develop lupus, however, women of color are 2-3 times more likely to develop lupus.
More than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually across the country.
If you like to understand and learn more about Lupus and or to donate funds to finding a cure for this disease check out the Lupus Foundation of America, Inc. at www.lupus.org .
As always, stay healthy, get your regular check-ups and if your gut tells you something is wrong, then follow your intuition and consult a physician. You only have one body and one life so do your best to take care of it.