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What exactly is lupus and how can it be recognized?

Lupus is an autoimmune inflammatory disease, in which the body’s immune system begins to attack its own healthy tissues and organs, which further results in inflammation, swelling and damage to joints, skin and other organs and systems. This condition is chronic in nature, and although the reasons are not really clear, it seems to be more typical of females than males. Also, females of African-American origin are likely to experience more serious symptoms and the mortality rate is higher in their cases. There are four different types of this disease, and they are:

systemic lupus erythematosus,discoid lupus erythematosus,drug-induced lupus erythematosus andneonatal lupus.

Each type affects different system of the body. Even though the symptoms depend on the body system that is affected, and they differ from case to case, generally, those that indicate this disease include fever, change in weight, pain, stiffness and swelling in joints, mouth sores and rash on the face, skin lesions, and shortness of breath. Besides these symptoms, people with this condition may experience dry eyes, easy bruising, pain in the chest, and even depression or the loss of memory.

Why does it occur and can it be treated?

As for the causes, given that it is an autoimmune disease, it means that the cause is usually impossible to determine. It is very possible that it has something to do with genetics and the environment, and many doctors believe that people tend to inherit predisposition to this condition, and not the condition itself. The disease can be triggered by various factors later, among which the most common are smoking, exposure to sunlight and UV rays, and exposure to certain chemicals, infections, smoking or even medications, particularly those that contain penicillin.

As for the cure, even though it has not been discovered so far, there are ways in which the symptoms may be treated successfully and kept under control. This means that the treatment also depends on the type of lupus and on the symptoms experienced and their severity. Generally, medications that may be used in the treatment are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antimalar drugs and corticosteroids. Aggressive lupus, which refers to those cases that are life threatening, is usually treated with high-dose corticosteroids, which are taken either orally or intravenously, and with immunosuppressive drugs. It is also important to mention that there are numerous clinical trials that are being done in order to find even more effective methods of treatment.

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