About Lupus

It might seem a little odd to have a ‘What is Lupus’ page on my blog. However, many of my posts are about my life with Lupus and for all those people who happen to stop by I’d really love them to learn a little bit more about it. There isn’t a test and you don’t have to read all the way to the bottom, but if you’d like to find out more I hope this page helps just a little.

There are of course plenty of other websites that can give you more in-depth medical advice when it comes to Lupus. This blog is just my experience. This blog is about my Lupus and goodness knows, we’re all so different. I’d really love other Lupus, and indeed other chronic illness, patients to contribute to the blog in their own way. Please feel free to comment with your thoughts and experiences or get in touch if you’d like to guest post. It doesn’t even have to be illness related – after all, we’re real people with lives too.

And really, I want this blog to prove that there is life after illness. That hospitals are not the be all and end all. That normal life does happen amid the medication and the appointments and the side effects.

So what is Lupus?

Lupus is a chronic illness, which means that most of its effects are invisible. The human body is supposed to produce antibodies which protect from illness and infection but Lupus patients have too many. This means they run away with themselves and start attacking healthy cells and tissues rather than infections. This can cause inflammation and damage to joints, muscles and internal organs. My doctor always used to describe it as being allergic to myself, which I always thought fitted quite well.

How is it caused?

Ah, a question I have asked time and time again. The truth is? Noone actually knows. Some think it’s genetic, some think it’s environmental and some just admit that they don’t know. There are a number of trigger for symptoms though. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Viruses
  • Infections
  • Too much sunlight
  • Prolonged use of some medications
  • Stress

What are the symptoms?

Like I’ve already said, Lupus affects different patients in different ways. The most common symptoms are:

  • Fatigue – Not just feeling tired but total exhaustion. Even when you’ve had enough sleep. I could live in my bed at times.
  • Joint Pain – Joints may become sore or inflamed. However, unlike other conditions, it is unlikely that Lupus will cause permanent damage to them. It often feels like they’re going to pop out of your skin.
  • Rashes – Many Lupus patients get a rash across their face and other parts of their body. The facial rash appears across both cheeks and down the nose, and is commonly referred to as the ‘butterfly rash’ because of its shape. No amount of concealer is getting rid of it either.

How is it treated?

Currently there’s no cure for Lupus, but there’s a whole world of medication available to help patients live normal lives. Many patients take a cocktail of medications to keep everything under control, but some take hardly any. It really is dependant on each patient.

  • Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – These reduce inflammation in the body and therefore help reduce pain.
  • Hydroxycloroquine – Usually used in the treatment of Malaria, but is useful for some Lupus symptoms like reducing fatigue, rashes and joint and muscle pain.
  • Steroids – These help to reduce inflammation in the body quickly and are normally used to treat severe symptoms or to keep Lupus under control.
  • Immunosuppressants – These work by effectively ‘squashing’ your immune system which can limit the damage Lupus does to healthy parts of your body. They do mean that patients are more susceptible to infections though.
  • Reduced exposure to sunlight – Yes, I know that’s not a medicine but Lupus patients are advised to wear sunscreen and cover their skin at all times, even on cloudy days, as too much exposure to the sun can cause a flare up of symptoms.

For more information, visit www.hibbslupustrust.org

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