Although the immune system has a great reputation for protecting the body from disease and sickness, it can sometimes become confused as to who the “good guys” are. When certain diseases strike, the immune system may react by attacking innocent tissues and organs. A patient who suffers from lupus is all too familiar with the symptoms of the chronic inflammatory disease that pinpoints the joints, kidneys, blood cells, skin, heart, and lungs. With no two cases of lupus the same, the maintenance of the condition becomes a personal journey for many.
What is Lupus?
Lupus is a condition that attacks healthy cells and tissues when the immune system has been compromised from within. There are many different types of lupus to consider, but the most frequently seen (and most serious form) is called systemic lupus erythematosus, which has the ability to affect many different parts of the body. Additional types of lupus include dicoid lupus erythematosus (characterized by a nagging skin rash); subcacure cutaneous lupus erythematosus (produces skin sores on body parts exposed to the sun); drug-induced lupus (caused by medications); and neonatal lupus (a rare variation that affects newborns) .
Since no two people experience the same batch of symptoms and signs of lupus, there are a variety of mild or severe indications of the disease. Some people may experience their symptoms rather quickly, while others face a slow progression. Symptoms are also temporary or permanent, depending on the kind of lupus involved. Even when it comes to the characteristic rash associated with lupus Ė not everyone will endure this telling symptom. The most common signs and symptoms of lupus include:
a) Malar Rash:
About 1 in 3 people with lupus will develop a butterfly-shaped rash that appears across the cheeks and bridge of the nose. The rash may look raised or flat, blotchy or solid red in certain sections of the face. Skin lesions that look like small pimples may also arise.
b) Kidney Problems:
Kidney damage is a common symptom associated with lupus patients. They may eventually lose the full ability to filter toxins, which can lead to kidney failure. Patients sometimes notice urine that is frothy or tea-colored. The lower legs and ankles may swell.
Joint pain is commonly seen in lupus patients, which is often accompanied by swelling and stiffness. The fingers, wrists, knees, and hands are the most common parts of the body to suffer arthritic attacks. During a lupus flare, the pain can become quite intense.
Sensitivity to sunlight may develop in lupus patients, which also causes severe rashes to appear. Depending on the severity of the disease, even fluorescent and other types of indoor lighting can pose a problem.
e) Affected Brain or Central Nervous System:
The brain and central nervous system may become affected by lupus, where a patient may suffer from headaches, seizures, and dizziness. Vision problems are also a possibility, as well as the threat of stroke.
f) Heart Problems:
All parts of the heart are in danger when an individual is diagnosed with lupus. Patients should pay close attention to the pericardium (the sac surrounding the heart), myocardium (the heart muscle), and endocardium (the lining of the inside of the heart).
g) Lung Problems:
Lupus is also responsible for a handful of lung problems, which includes the commonly seen inflammation of the chest cavity lining called pleurisy. The result is sharp chest pains often described as feeling like you’ve been stabbed in the lungs.
h) Additional Symptoms and Signs:
Lupus patients may also suffer from the following symptoms and signs: fatigue, fever, swollen glands, body swelling (in the legs and around the eyes), digestive problems, stomach pains, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, depression, and hair loss.
Causes of Lupus
Doctors are unclear as to how an autoimmune disease like lupus strikes in the first place. While various theories, such as environment, hormones, and heredity are some of the instances thought to contribute to the development of the condition, there are certain factors also thought to trigger lupus.
These factors include viral or bacterial infections, certain prescription medications, excessive exposure to sunlight, and estrogen. Additional theories for the cause of lupus in some patients include stress, various food items, aspartame (artificial sweetener), silicone breast implants, mercury dental fillings, hair dye, and toxic chemicals .
There is no one test that diagnoses lupus. For some, it could take months or years for a doctor to conclude that you are suffering from the disease. Some of the ways a doctor detects the presence of the condition is through analyzing your medical history, performing a complete exam, blood tests, and biopsies of the skin and kidneys.
Anyone can develop lupus, but the disease predominately strikes females. The condition is also seen more within the African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American communities. The presence of the female hormone, estrogen, also places one at risk for lupus. In addition, some people possess a gene or genes that make them more likely to get lupus. About 10% of people with lupus have a family member who suffers from the disease .
Natural Cures for Lupus
The thought of taking a natural cure to combat lupus is one that satisfies patients trying to avoid some of the side effects associated with prescription medications. Some of the common drugs used to treat lupus include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antimalarial drugs, corticosteroids, and immunosuppressive medications, which may cause easy bruising, thinning bones, high blood pressure, weight gain, and increased risk of infection. Natural cures for lupus include:
The bark of the willow is known to ease muscle and joint pain associated with lupus, as well as act as an anti-inflammatory against affected joints. It is suggested to take up to 5 ml of fluid extract three times per day, as well as use the remedy with other cleansing herbs such as burdock .
b) Limiting Certain Foods:
Some patients with lupus have not only reduced the portion size of their meals, but also limit foods and beverages, such as cow’s milk and beef products.
c) Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
It is suggested to consume fish several times per week, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
d) Herbs and Supplements:
Lupus patients may add a variety of supplements and herbs to their diet, such as cat’s claw, black walnut, and flaxseed oil to decrease inflammation.
e) Colloidal Silver:
Colloidal silver serves as a natural cure for lupus symptoms that offers helpful antibacterial, antifungal, and antiarthritic properties.
Some lupus patients have found great relief when using acupuncture to ease painful flare-ups.
g) Stress Management:
For lupus patients with a tendency to suffer from flare-ups during times of escalating stress, it is suggested to find tension relievers, such as yoga or meditation. Regular exercise may also help.
When Left Untreated
If lupus is ignored or not detected in time, a variety of complications may arise. With treatment, most people can thrive and properly function with the disease. Those who are without treatment, run the risk for sustaining life-threatening damage to their kidneys, central nervous system, blood vessels, lungs, and heart. Infection is more likely to settle in and the risk of cancer also increases with untreated lupus.
Bone tissue loss and destruction may also occur. Since the disease primarily attacks women, they tend to be more at risk to feeling the weight of ongoing medical problems when their condition is left untreated, such as an increased risk of miscarriage and suffering from a complicated pregnancy.
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