With about 1.5 million people living with lupus in the US, this chronic disease might not be on your radar. The average American may be more likely to see it on a medical TV show rather than know a person with lupus. In fact, nearly 75 percent of Americans surveyed were unaware of what lupus was when asked. To get the facts straight from television fiction, we’re going through a few things you might not know on this condition.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease — meaning the immune system inside the body attacks your own tissues. In other words, it’s not an infection that can be spread or transferred to others like a cold or the flu. While the exact causes are a little bit murky, genetics definitely play a factor in many cases. Even more frustrating is that it’s pretty common for people with lupus to have more than one autoimmune disorder.
You May Not Be Born With Lupus
It’s typical for the symptoms of lupus to first appear in adulthood — specifically women of childbearing age. Some of the first symptoms that people experience are hair loss, fatigue, and skin rashes. These signs can pop up from time to time, and are referred to as flare-ups. In rare cases, lupus is a temporary condition caused by a severe reaction to a medication. For most, it will be with them for the rest of their lives.
Women & Lupus
Women, specifically women of color, are much more likely to suffer from lupus than men or even Caucasian women. Frustratingly, it can take years to get an accurate lupus diagnosis for patients, so there’s a good chance that many cases go undiagnosed. This condition can be deadly, so it’s important to check in with a doctor if you’ve noticed any of these autoimmune symptoms cropping up from time to time. Many with lupus are misdiagnosed the first time they go in to see a doctor, making it even more difficult.
Lupus Treatments Look Different for Everyone
Due to the complex nature of the disease and the lifelong battles with various symptoms, every treatment plan looks different when it comes to lupus. Some people only require mild management, while others need to be on heavy steroids to control it. Every medication comes with side effects and these are no different. Some even have to actively manage those side effects in addition to their condition.
If you or someone you know may be suffering from lupus, it’s always a good idea to seek medical advice. Knowing exactly what’s wrong can be half the battle.