The disease of 1000  faces - Lupus

The disease of 1000 faces - Lupus

  • What is lupus?
  • The most common type of lupus.
  • Causes, what's autoimmune disease?
  • Symptoms of lupus.
  • Effects of lupus on other organs
  • Lupus flare


What is Lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks its cells, tissues, and organs. As for lupus, it is a long-term autoimmune disease that causes inflammation, swelling, and damage. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems, including your joints, skin, kidney, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs. Lupus is also referred to as "The disease of 1000 faces". 

The most common type of LUPUS

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most common type of lupus. It is a systemic condition and has impacts on the body.SLE is more severe than other types of lupus because it affects the body's organs and organs system. The symptoms can typically range from mild to severe. It causes inflammation in the joints, skins, lungs, kidney, heart, blood, or a combination of these.  SLE is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks its tissues, causing widespread inflammation and tissue damage to affected organs. It can affect the joints, skin, brain, lungs, kidneys, and blood vessels. This condition typically goes through cycles. At times of remission, the person will have no symptoms. However, during a flare-up, the disease is active, and symptoms appear.


Causes of Lupus

The leading cause of lupus is an autoimmune disease. As an autoimmune disease, lupus occurs when our immune system attacks the healthy tissues in our body. 

It appears that people with an inherited predisposition for lupus may develop the disease when they come into contact with something in the environment that can trigger lupus. The cause of lupus in most cases, however, is unknown. Some potential triggers include:

  • Infections: Infection can initiate lupus or cause a relapse in some people. 
  • Medications: Lupus can also be triggered by certain medications such as blood pressure medications, anti-seizure medications, and antibiotics. Those who have drug-induced lupus usually get better when they stop taking the medication. 
  • Sunlight. Exposure to the sun may bring on lupus skin lesions or trigger an internal response in susceptible people. 


What is autoimmune disease?

The immune system protects the body and fights off antigens, such as viruses, bacteria, and germs. Autoimmune disease occurs when the body's natural defense system fails to differentiate between its cells and foreign cells. This causes the body to attack normal cells mistakenly. 

The immune system protects the body and fights off antigens, such as viruses, bacteria, and germs.

It does this by producing proteins called antibodies. White blood cells, or B lymphocytes, produce these antibodies.

When a person has an autoimmune condition, such as lupus, the immune system cannot differentiate between unwanted substances, antigens, and healthy tissue.

As a result, the immune system directs antibodies against both the healthy tissue and the antigens. This causes swelling, pain, and tissue damage.

The most common type of autoantibody that develops in people with lupus is an antinuclear antibody (ANA). The ANA reacts with parts of the cell's nucleus, the command center of the cell.

These autoantibodies circulate in the blood, but some of the body's cells have walls permeable enough to let some autoantibodies through.

The autoantibodies can then attack the DNA in the nucleus of these cells. This is why lupus affects some organs and not others.

Why does the immune system go wrong?

Several genetic factors probably influence the development of SLE.

Some genes in the body help the immune system to function. However, changes in these genes may stop the immune system from working correctly in people with SLE.

According to Genetics Home Reference, one possible theory relates to cell death, a natural process that occurs as the body renews its cells.

Some scientists believe that, due to genetic factors, the body does not get rid of cells that have died.

These dead cells that remain may release substances that cause the immune system to malfunction.


Symptoms of lupus.

The symptoms of lupus occur during the time of flare-ups. However, between flare-ups, people usually experience times of remission when there are few or no symptoms.

Lupus has a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Pain or swelling in joints and muscles. 
  • Swollen glands or lymph nodes.
  • skin rashes
  • ulcer in mouth
  • loss of appetite and weight loss. 
  • chest pain upon deep breathing
  • fatigue
  • sensitivity to the sun
  • fever
  • headaches
  • chest pain upon deep breathing
  • unusual hair loss
  • pale or purple fingers or toes from cold or stress (Raynaud's phenomenon)
  • arthritis

Effects of lupus on other organs and body systems

Apart from the symptoms listed above, lupus also impacts other organs and body systems. 

  • Lungs: Some people develop pleuritis, an inflammation of the chest cavity lining that causes chest pain, particularly breathing. Pneumonia may also eventually develop.

  • Kidneys: Lupus nephritis occurs when lupus autoantibodies affect structures in your kidneys that filter out waste. This causes kidney inflammation and may lead to blood in the urine, protein in the urine, high blood pressure, impaired kidney function, or even kidney failure. Around 1 in 3 people with lupus will have kidney problems.

  • Central nervous system: Lupus can sometimes affect the brain or central nervous system. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, depression, memory disturbances, vision problems, seizures, stroke, or changes in behavior.

  • Blood: Lupus can cause anemia, leukopenia (a decreased number of white blood cells), or thrombocytopenia (a decrease in platelets in the blood, which assist in clotting).
  • Blood vessels: Vasculitis, or inflammation of the blood vessels, can occur. This can affect circulation.

  • Heart: If inflammation affects the heart, it can result in myocarditis and endocarditis. It can also affect the membrane that surrounds the heart, causing pericarditis. It may result in chest pain or other symptoms as well. Endocarditis can damage the heart valves, causing the valve surface to thicken and develop, result in growths that can lead to heart murmurs. 

Other complications involving lupus

Lupus can also increase the risk of several health problems, such as infections, bone tissue death, and pregnancy complications. 

  1. Pregnancy complication: A woman with lupus usually has difficulty getting pregnant. They are at higher risk of pregnancy loss, preterm birth, and preeclampsia. 
  2. Infection: Infection becomes more likely because both lupus and its treatments weaken the immune system. Common infections include urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, yeast infections, salmonella, herpes, and shingles.
  3. Bone tissue death: This occurs when there is a low blood supply to a bone. Tiny breaks can develop in the bone. Eventually, the bone may collapse. It most commonly affects the hip joint.


Lupus flare

What are lupus flares?

When the symptoms get worse and make you sick, that's called a flare. Flare usually comes and goes. It may cause swelling and rashes at times and be gone after few days. Sometimes it also happens without any apparent symptoms. The flares range from mild to worst conditions - which requires medical conditions. 


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Triggers for lupus flares

Common triggers for lupus flares include:

  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Being in the sun or exposure to fluorescent/halogen light. 
  • Injuries
  • Infection
  • Stopping medication/skip medication
  • Certain types of food and many more.

Even with medications, lupus flare may still occur due to other triggers. 

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