Lupus

Lupus is a disease diagnosed and treated by the Rheumatology Division of Premier Medical Group.

What is Lupus?

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years.

In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs (“foreign invaders,” like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues (“auto” means “self”) and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.  Lupus is also a disease of flares (the symptoms worsen and you feel ill) and remissions (the symptoms improve and you feel better).

 

What are the common symptoms of Lupus?

Because lupus can affect so many different organs, a wide range of symptoms can occur. These symptoms may come and go, and different symptoms may appear at different times during the course of the disease.

The most common symptoms of lupus, which are the same for females and males, are:

  • Extreme fatigue (tiredness)
  • Headaches
  • Painful or swollen joints
  • Fever
  • Anemia (low numbers of red blood cells or hemoglobin, or low total blood volume)
  • Swelling (edema) in feet, legs, hands, and/or around eyes
  • Pain in chest on deep breathing (pleurisy)
  • Butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose
  • Sun- or light-sensitivity (photosensitivity)
  • Hair loss
  • Abnormal blood clotting
  • Fingers turning white and/or blue when cold (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
  • Mouth or nose ulcers

How is Lupus treated?

Lupus symptoms vary from one person to another. In many cases, the best treatment approach is with a health care team that will tailor treatment to your specific condition.

Once you have been diagnosed with lupus, your doctor will develop a treatment plan based on your age, symptoms, general health, and lifestyle. The goals of any treatment plan are to:

  • Reduce inflammation caused by lupus
  • Suppress your overactive immune system
  • Prevent flares, and treat them when they occur
  • Control symptoms like joint pain and fatigue
  • Minimize damage to organs