NATURAL TREATMENT OF LUPUS
What is lupus?
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammatory lesions in some body tissues. It is called systemic because it can affect all organs of the body such as the skin, kidneys, joints, lungs, cardiovascular system, liver or nervous system.
The disease is caused by the immune system itself. The immune system of people with lupus, for unknown reasons, attacks the body's own cells because it recognizes them as if they were "intrusive" (antigens).
To eliminate these cells it can not recognize as their own, the immune system produces antibodies series, forming what is called immune complexes. These components cause inflammation in the body.
The immune complexes travel through the blood and can accumulate in various parts of the body, causing damage and symptoms of the disease.
The severity of symptoms varies with time, and may have symptom-free periods, or periods with acute discomfort (severe pain, skin rashes, etc..).
Lupus is not a fatal disease in most cases. With a suitable treatment and a medical monitoring, over 90% of people who have lupus can have a normal life span.
Who may have lupus?
- Lupus can occur at any age and in either sex, but most often affects young people, aged between 17 and 35.
- Most lupus patients are women (90%), mainly in childbearing age (15-44 years).
- It is estimated it affects 7 from 100,000 people per year. Lupus affects nine times more women than men.
What are lupus causes?
Lupus can occur at all stages of life, and affects women more than men.
The causes of the disease are unknown, but genetic and environmental factors are suspected to be involved:
- Genetic: it is believed that there are genetic factors that may predispose to developing lupus.
However, heredity is not a determining factor to have lupus. There are no tests that can dictate whether a person is susceptible to lupus or not, as it is believed that more than one gene is involved in this disease.
People with a family history of lupus may not have lupus. Other people with the same background may have lupus, for example, if there are triggers.
What are lupus triggers?
These are situations that can cause lupus flares. These factors are:
- Viral infections
- Some medications, such as hydralazine and procainamide. In most of these cases, symptoms disappear with cessation of treatment.
Lupus symptoms can be very different, depending on the person and the type of lupus present. People with lupus do NOT suffer all the symptoms described here.
- Fever: appears in 80% of patients with lupus. Only considered a symptom of lupus fever over 38 °.
- Fatigue, prolonged fatigue
- Anorexia (lack of appetite) or weight loss.
- Arthritis: swollen and tender joints in transitional periods. Arthritis is the most common symptom of lupus patients (95%), which is usually accompanied by weakness and fatigue. The pain can be so severe that prevents movement of the joint.
- Cutaneous lesions: is presented in 70% of patients, and can be shaped as body erythema, skin spots, malar rash, redness, blistering, Raynaud's disease, photosensitivity or sunburn. They usually appear in areas of the body most exposed to the sun (face, neck, chest, hands, arms).
- Butterfly erythema: lupus skin lesion. It produces redness of the nose and cheeks, reminiscent of the shape of a butterfly with open wings.
- Alopecia: the involvement of the scalp can cause hair loss.
- Injury to the nervous system: symptoms may be neurogenic (tingling in parts of the body, weakness, convulsions, paralysis) or sometimes psychological (depression, headache, personality changes, confusion or psychosis).
- Pulmonary problems: less frequently than the effects before. Inflamed tissue that covers the lungs, causing pleurisy, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
- Disorders of the liver: in 30% of patients produces hepatomegaly.
- Eyes: itchy eyes, red or dry.
- Other symptoms: Lupus symptoms can be very different depending on the tissue that is affected. The above described are often the most common.
Other symptoms may include anemia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, swollen glands, autoimmune thyroiditis, chest pain, panniculitis, inflammation of the thoracic organs (ascites), bowel vasculitis, photosensitivity, lasting ulcers in the mouth or nose.
Diagnosis of lupus
It is a difficult disease to diagnose for the following reasons:
- The symptoms are very diverse, evolve over time and some may go away. It can take time to develop enough symptoms to indicate the presence of a multisystem disease.
- Due to its complexity, different tests are needed to determine that it is lupus. The most crucial medical tests for lupus are:
o Test ANA (anti-nuclear): 95% of people with lupus test positive for ANA, but this may indicate other autoimmune diseases such as Sjögren syndrome, mononucleosis, rheumatism, etc.. This is a blood test looking for immune components which attack the cell nucleus.
or kidney biopsy: It is a test to analyze the kidney tissue to determine if kidney inflammation (nephritis) and damage is caused by lupus.
Lupus is treated with general guidelines and using drugs:
General Guidelines to treat lupus:
- Quiet Life-style: stressors can aggravate the symptoms of the disease. It is recommended to rest a little more than usual, and avoid situations that create nervousness.
- Sleep: The rest is necessary to alleviate the symptoms of the disease. It is recommended that people with lupus sleep 10 to 11 hours a day, and do a little nap during the day. Relaxing activities like yoga classes can also help treat lupus.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure: exposure to ultraviolet rays as sun can trigger outbreaks. People with lupus should protect from sun and should avoid be directly exposed for hours.
- Periodic medical monitoring: especially if you want to get pregnant, medical control should be strict.
- Food: There is no diet to cure the lupus, but nutrients may be provided through dietary that help improve the symptoms of the disease, or to prevent more outbreaks.
* More information about Food for Lupus in the listing above.
Treatments with drugs:
Drug treatments for lupus vary depending on the patient's symptoms. Only your doctor can prescribe medication. Always consult your doctor before taking any new drugs or nutritional supplements.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to treat fever, inflammation and mild muscle and joint pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs are used as acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin).
- Malaria: used to treat rashes and as an adjunct to some drug treatments.
- Corticosteroids: They are prescribed in different doses depending on the degree of symptoms and medical opinions. If you take these drugs, you should be aware that the diet should be rich in calcium. Corticosteroids can damage bone health. (More)
- Immunosuppressants: only used in certain cases of lupus with hyper-reactive immune system.
More information on lupus in the listing above
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This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.