What is lupus?
Lupus is a short name for a disease called "lupus erythematosus." The word lupus means wolf, in Latin. The skin rash found in some patients can form a butterfly pattern on the nose, resembling a wolf's bite. Lupus is called an "autoimmune" disease because the immune system, which usually protects the body from disease, turns against the body, causing damage to organs and tissues.
There are two types of lupus. Systemic lupus erythematosus can harm your skin, joints, kidneys and brain and can be fatal. Another type, called "discoid" lupus erythematosus, only affects your skin.
What causes lupus?
Nobody knows what causes this disease. Family history and circumstances around your environment such as infections, viruses, toxic chemicals or pollutants (car fumes, factory smoke) may have a role in causing this disease. Men and women of all ages and races can get lupus. However, about 90 percent of people diagnosed with lupus are women.
What are the symptoms of lupus?
Everyone has different symptoms. These may include skin rash, joint pain, hair loss, sensitivity to the sun, fatigue, weight loss, fever, swollen lymph nodes, chest pain and nerve involvement.
How can lupus harm the kidneys?
Kidney damage as a complication of lupus can be mild or severe. This can cause damage to the screening unit (glomeruli) in the kidney. Because this filtering unit cleanses the blood from waste, damage to this unit can cause your kidneys to work poorly or not work at all. About 90 percent of lupus patients will experience some kidney damage, but only two to three percent who actually develop kidney disease are severe enough to require treatment.
Kidney disease may seem "silent" and not cause any symptoms. However, you may have dark urine, low back pain, high blood pressure, increased body weight caused by excessive fluid and swelling around the eyes, hands and feet.
How do I know if I have lupus?
Your doctor will do a physical examination, see your medical history and do special tests such as x-rays and blood tests for antinuclear antibodies (ANA).
What is the treatment of lupus?
Lupus is treated with drugs that block your immune system. Some of them are prednisone, azathioprine, cyclophosphamide or cyclosporine. A recent drug, belimumab, is a monloclonal antibody that is also available. Antimalarial drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, can also be used to help control lupus.
Does this medicine have side effects?
Each of these drugs can have its own side effects. Fortunately, these side effects can usually be controlled in most patients. Discuss your treatment with your doctor.
Do I have to follow a special diet?
Sometimes. All patients must follow a balanced diet. When this disease is active, you may have to follow some taboos. You need to talk to your doctor or nutritionist about the best diet for you.
If you have kidney disease, you may need to eat less protein and sodium (salt). If you have high blood pressure, you should make sure you take the prescribed medication to control your pressure. If you are overweight, losing weight can help control your blood pressure.
How can I know if lupus has hurt my kidney?
A doctor can test your blood and urine to see if you have kidney disease due to complications of lupus. A urine test can check the amount of protein, blood and other things to show kidney damage. Blood tests for serum creatinine can be used to calculate the level of glomerular filtration (GFR), which shows how well your kidneys filter waste from the blood.
What happens if I suffer from kidney failure due to complications of lupus?
If your kidney fails, you can be treated with dialysis or kidney transplant. Lupus patients can also do this treatment as in people who have other types of kidney disease.
Many patients with kidney lupus have received kidney transplants. Drugs used to prevent your body from rejecting the new kidney are the same or similar to those used to treat lupus. It is not common for people with lupus to reject new kidneys. Frequency, lupus is in an inactive position. Lupus patients with new kidneys do the same as in every other patient with a kidney transplant.
What are my long-term prospects?
Most patients do well in the long term. You may need to take medication for years. Even patients who have less involvement must have periodic examinations.
What can I do to help myself?
You should learn more about the disease and the factors that cause it to recur. One of these factors is sun exposure. You must avoid outdoor activities from 10: 00-16: 00. If you have to go out, you should wear a strong sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat and a long-sleeved shirt. You must follow your doctor's instructions carefully and take the medication as directed.
Fatigue can also cause relapse. You must plan your physical activities and rest periods. Planned exercise can help.
Chronic illness also requires understanding and support from family members. When the disease is active, lupus patients may experience a decreased ability to handle household tasks or work. The ability to be more flexible will help when living with lupus.
- Can Lupus Be Cured?
- Everything You Need to Know About Lupus
- Terms that must be fulfilled if you want to become a kidney donor
- What Happens After a Kidney Transplant?