Usually unknown diseases become famous when they affect celebrities. With the unexpected death of television anchor Durga Menon recently, the lupus disease is on the discussions again.
Lupus disease or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a long lasting chronic rheumatic disease that mainly affects women aged between 15-40 years. The disease came to limelight after it hit singer-actress Selena Gomez, singer Lady Gaga and Shashi Tharoor’s late wife Sunanda Pushkar.
Lupus disease is an auto immune disease that causes the immune system to attack the normal and healthy issues in the body. As per the present statistics, about three out of every one lakh people are diagnosed with lupus disease.
Since the symptoms of lupus are very common, it is difficult to identify it in the initial stage. Fever that prolongs up to six months, severe fatigue, joint pain and rashes on face are major symptoms. The rashes on cheek and nose resembles the shape of a butterfly, so that it is known as butterfly rash or malar rash.
Pain and swelling on joints, hair fall, wounds inside mouth and nose also are symptoms of lupus disease. The patients may suffer chest pain and breathing trouble due to inflammation in heart and lungs. Inflammation in kidneys lead to swelling on legs.
The disease also leads to a state in which blood clots in veins. When lupus affects brain, the patient may suffer fits. When lungs are affected, the patient may cough up blood. In case of pregnant women, lupus can cause frequent miscarriages.
As the symptoms of lupus disease are common, it may be mistaken for some other disease. This will lead to delay in diagnosis. Blood test and skin biopsy are used to diagnose lupus disease.
The treatment is determined after considering the condition of the disease. The patients affected with lupus disease can get married after the disease is under control. They require full support from their spouse.
They can become pregnant after controlling the disease, otherwise it may lead to miscarriage or abnormal growth of baby. Compared to others, women affected with lupus are 30 percent more vulnerable to miscarriage. The disease can be diagnosed through proper screening test.
(Source of information: Dr. Bhuvanesh, Consultant Rheumatologist, KIMS Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram)