Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease. This means that your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body. With lupus in particular, your immune system attacks normal, healthy tissues causing them to be inflamed, swollen, and damaged. More specifically, tissues found in your joints, skin, kidney, heart, and lungs are affected.
Normally, the immune system makes proteins called antibodies, which protect and fight against viruses and bacteria. But when someone has lupus, the immune system is unable to distinguish between healthy tissue and antigens, which are substances foreign to the human body. As an effect lupus causes swelling, pain, and tissue damage.
What Causes Lupus?
Currently, there are no confirmed causes of lupus. Doctors believe that genetics, hormones, and your environment may be involved. You could be born with a gene that makes you more likely to get lupus, or you might be exposed to something in your environment that triggers the disease.
But even if both of these things come together, that still doesn't mean you’ll get lupus. That’s why it’s so hard for doctors to figure out what causes it. What researchers do know however, is there are certain things that make you more likely to get it, including your heredity, gender, race, and even previous illnesses.
Types of Lupus
Discoid lupus is a version of the disease that is limited to the skin. Rashes appear on the face, neck, and scalp. It should be stressed that this type of lupus does not affect internal organs. Severe cases can lead to permanent scarring, hyperpigmentation, and hair loss.
This distinguishes discoid lupus from SLE, which also causes a mild rash, but also affects the organs of the body. Less than 10% of patients with discoid lupus progress into the systemic form of the disease. However, currently, there is no way to predict or prevent the path of the disease.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
SLE is more commonly found in women than in men. It may appear at any age, but appears most often from the ages 15 to 44. This disease affects Asians and African Americans more than any other race. It can be said the SLE is more severe than discoid lupus because it can affect any of the body’s organ and organ systems.
Some people with SLE may present inflammation or other problems with only skin and joints, while others will see joints, lungs, kidneys, blood, and/or the heart affected as well. This type of lupus is also often characterized by periods of flare (when the disease is active) and periods of remission (when the disease is dormant).
Drug-Induced Lupus (DIL)
There are currently 38 known medications which cause DIL. As the name implies, lupus is caused by an overreaction to a certain mix or kind of medicine. The symptoms of DIL is very similar to SLE and discoid lupus, but one could say that they are milder compared to the other two mentioned.
Neonatal Lupus Erythematosus (NLE)
NLE or neonatal lupus is a rare disorder which is described as the infant form of lupus. However, it should be made clear that affected infant or child does not have SLE. Neonatal lupus is a distinct, separate disorder. More often than not, the mother also does not have SLE. Mother are told that they are around 20% at risk of later developing lupus.
Children with NLE usually have reddish, ring-like skin lesions and resembles the rash associated with SLE. The rash is temporary , usually appearing during the first few weeks of life and clearing up at some point during the next several months. The raccoon eye pattern is a big clue to this diagnosis when it is present. Some may also exhibit an abnormal sensitivity to sunlight, which may initially trigger the development of the rash.
Aside from these, the most serious complication of neonatal lupus is a heart condition known as congenital heart block. The occurrence of congenital heart block in infants may be as common as the skin rash, it is not known. It is the most serious complication and when the block is complete it is a permanent condition and can potentially be life-threatening.
Although it may not be as known as most diseases, lupus can be potentially life- threatening, so make sure to contact your doctor! To give yourselves an easier time, make sure to use SeeYouDoc to quickly be able to book an appointment with a doctor nearest to you!