Characteristics 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.

curcuma extracto

Turmeric in the form of an extract rich in curcuminoids, is a natural anti-inflammatory remedy.

Why does lupus appear?

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 etiology

Lupus can occur at all stages of life, and affects women more than men.

Genetic causes of lupus

The causes of the disease are unknown, but genetic and environmental factors are suspected to be involved:

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
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Some medications, such as hydralazine and procainamide. In most of these cases, symptoms disappear with cessation of treatment.

Lupus symptoms

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.

General symptoms of lupus

  • Fever: It appears in 80% of patients with lupus. Only considered a symptom of lupus fever over 38 ° C.
  • Fatigue, prolonged fatigue
  • Anorexia (lack of appetite) or weight loss.

Local symptoms of lupus:

  • 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.
  • Arthritis and fatigue are the most common symptoms of lupus.

butterfly rush from lupus

Drawing of butterfly rush, characteristic of lupus

  • 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 rush: 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.
  • Digestive symptoms: dry mouth, loss of appetite, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, sore mouth and palate, esophageal, stomach ulcers or gastritis.
  • 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).
  • Kidney damages: glomerulonephritis (kidney inflammation that triggers hypertension), excess protein in the urine (proteinuria, casts), renal failure.
  • Pulmonary problems: less frequently than the effects before. Inflamed tissue that covers the lungs, causing pleurisy, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Cardiovascular system disorders: poor circulation, thrombosis, blue with cold fingers, impaired blood clotting, anemia.
  • 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 has been established that a patient must have at least 4 of the following 11 symptoms to be considered to have lupus:

  • Butterfly rush
  • Discoid rash
  • Photosensitivity
  • Skin ulcers
  • Arthritis
  • Pleurisy (inflammation of the pleura, which is the skin that covers the lungs)
  • Renal disorders such as increased protein in the urine, the presence of cylinders in urine or nephritis.
  • Anemia or leukopenia
  • Seizures or psychosis
  • Presence in the blood of a type of antibody (antiDNA).
  • Presence of antinuclear antibodies.

Why is lupus difficult to diagnose?

It is a difficult disease to diagnose for the following reasons:

  • “Great imitator”: Also called so because its symptoms are similar to those of other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis.
  • 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.

Tests for lupus diagnosis

Due to its complexity, different tests are necessary to determine what lupus is.

Foods with healthy fats for lupus

Foods with healthy fats: this type of fat helps reduce inflammation of the body

The most crucial medical tests for lupus are:

  • Test ANA (antinuclear): 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.
  • Kidney biopsy: It is a test to analyze the kidney tissue to determine if kidney inflammation (nephritis) and damage is caused by lupus.

Treating lupus

Lupus is treated with general guidelines and using drugs:

General guidelines to treat lupus

  • Quiet Lifestyle: 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  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.

Treatments of lupus 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 antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to treat fever, inflammation and mild muscle and joint pain. Antiinflammatory drugs are used as acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin).
  • Curcuma: More and more professionals choose to introduce this natural anti-inflammatory. Dose of 500 mg of curcuminoids per day for 3 months have shown a decrease in proteinuria, hematuria and systolic blood pressure in patients with recurrent or refractory lupus nephritis
  • Antimalarials: they are used to treat rashes and as a coadjuvant of 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 hyperreactive immune system.

Natural treatment of lupus

The natural treatment of lupus is based on using some natural remedies to improve its symptoms. Among all them, we have the following:

– Medicinal plant remedies for lupus

– Suitable vegetarian diet for lupus

punto rojo More information on lupus.

Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

6 April, 2020

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Botanical-online is an informative page that describes, among other topics, the traditional uses of plants from a therapeutic point of view. Their descriptions do not replace professional advice. Botanical-online is not responsible for self-medication and recommends consulting with the physician.