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Lupus Awareness Month

Lupus Awareness Month

Lupus - Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an incurable autoimmune disease which causes inflammation to the joints, skin and other organs.

This is an invisible illness and it’s difficult to diagnose because the symptoms of lupus are similar to lots of other conditions. According to a recent survey published by LUPUS UK, there is a delay of 6.4 years between developing initial symptoms and diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of lupus?

The two major symptoms of lupus are joint pain and stiffness and extreme exhaustion (no matter how much sleep you get) As well as these symptoms, there are additional signs such as:

  • Skin rash over the nose and cheeks
  • Swollen glands
  • Poor circulation in fingers and toes
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling sensitive to light

Lupus can range from mild to severe and you could experience anything from joint pain and tiredness at the lower end of the scale to life-threatening inflammation damaging the heart, lungs, brain and kidneys. It’s important to note that although there is no cure for lupus, it can be managed if diagnosed and treated early.

Who can get lupus?

Lupus can occur in men and women, but women are the principal sufferers and often, a lupus patient has family members who have an autoimmune condition such as MS, thyroid problems and Raynauds. The main triggers of lupus are hormonal activity and changes between the ages of 15-55, these triggers include childbirth, puberty or menopause.

What treatment is available?

Lupus is generally managed by anti-inflammatory medications, hydroxychloroquine, steroid tablets, injections and creams. Patients suffering from lupus are encouraged to self-manage their condition by looking after themselves.

It’s important to keep healthy and active but pace yourself and know your limits of activity. Talking to family, friends and your employer also helps, as this is an invisible condition, the more people who know you're suffering, the more support you’ll receive.

Most importantly, always stay out of direct sunlight, wear a hat and use high-factor sun cream. If you smoke, try to quit because smoking can affect the blood vessels and circulation, worsening your condition.

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