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November 30, 2007 at 8:31 PMComments: 8 Faves: 1

Is Lupus Hereditary?

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the immune system attacks the body's own tissues instead of just foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Although it's not fully understood what causes autoimmune diseases like lupus, it is thought that there are two components: genetic predisposition and environment.

Genetic predisposition

  • Lupus is not hereditary, insofar as the disease itself isn't passed from parent to child. It is hereditary in that a predisposition to developing the disease is passed down from parent to child. It is important to recognize this distinction. Not everyone with a parent who has lupus will develop the disease itself, and children can develop the disease even if neither of their parents has lupus.
  • Only about 5% of children of people with lupus will develop the disease themselves.

Environment

If the genetic predisposition exists in a person, then lupus can be triggered. It is thought that environmental causes like disease, drugs, or viruses can trigger lupus.

Environmental Lupus Triggers:

  • Infections, especially Epstein-Barr virus
  • Sulfa and penicillin antibiotics
  • Ultraviolet light
  • High levels of stress
  • Hormones
  • Medication, especially certain ones for cardiac arrhythmia and hypertension (high blood pressure)

Who is at risk for Lupus?

There are some factors that can increase your chances of developing lupus.

  • Females account for 90% of lupus cases
  • Females between the ages of 15 and 45 account for 80% of diagnoses of lupus
  • People of African, Asian, or native American heritage tend to be more likely to develop the disease
  • 1 in 1,000 Caucasian women develop lupus
  • 1 in 250 African American women develop lupus

What are the symptoms of lupus?

Since the symptoms can be tricky, Lupus is usually a very difficult disease to diagnose. Lupus has many symptoms, and they do not all occur in every patient. Often, symptoms associated with lupus can be mistaken for other diseases, or the normal aches and pains of aging. Additionally, there are four different varieties of lupus: systemic (meaning throughout the body), cutaneous (affecting the skin only), drug-induced, and neonatal.

Common lupus symptoms:

  • Pain and inflammation of the joints and muscles
  • Rash on the face in a butterfly shape over the cheeks and nose
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Arthritis
  • Anemia
  • Kidney diseases
  • Photosensitivity
  • Mouth lesions
  • Hair loss
  • Blood clotting problems
  • Seizures

If you have more than one or two of these symptoms, you might have lupus, and you should see your health practitioner immediately.

Treatment

  • There are many treatments available for lupus.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin, and Aleve are commonly used), antimalarials, and corticosteroids are all used to treat lupus.
  • Additionally, a healthy diet and an active lifestyle will help to alleviate many lupus symptoms.
  • Fish oil supplements have shown promising results for lupus sufferers, as well.

References:

www.lupus.org

http://lupus.webmd.com/

http://www.4women.gov/faq/lupus.htm

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8 Comments

  • This was interesting.

  • I am taking care of a boy right now temporarily who has lupus. At this time he is not in school. Can anyone tell me why he can't attend school? Is the pain that bad every day? And he is also on morphine, which totally blew me away. His mom is addicted to rx drugs and red flags are popping up all over the place. Please someone help me understand! Can someone with lupus attend school? He is 14 and should be in 8th grade, but is way behind.

  • Laura, I can't speak to how painful Lupus can or cannot be, but I would imagine that being on Morphine would be enough to keep him from school. I was on it temporarily after having surgery and I was so foggy I could barely stay awake, and don't quite remember much of anything from those few days in the hospital. Maybe if there was a way to manage the pain without those side-effects, he could attend school, but I really don't know all that much about Lupus so I can't say for certain.

  • Laura one of my friends has lupus and he can attend school he got medicene besides somthing like morphine to take care of the pain and he got his flare ups down somehow but for about a year they had him on things like morphine and he couldn't hardly do anything.

  • I just found out this morning that my last blood work done at my arthritis doctor's office revealed I am positive for lupus. I have been in such pain the last three days I haven't been able to lie down, sleep or walk. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia about 20 years ago. They told me what I'm going through is a flare up and may mean the lupus and fibro are working together to make this much pain. I'm on some meds now and am feeling some relief already. I've been really sick for about 2 1/2 years and no one could come up with what is wrong. I just want to be able to live again. Thanks for listening.

  • Janice it will get better I'll have lupus for about two years now and it took two years for them to find out what was going on in this body. So hold on it will get better.

  • wow! this sure is a scary topic, but interesting.

  • I haven't been diagnosed with lupus... I have tested positive for ANA but have not been able to afford to go see a rheumatologist. My doctor does not want to help me and I can't get any doctor to help me. I am always in pain, fatigued, and feeling weak. Now, I don't know if those are all symptoms but my doctor has suggested lupus. I am going out of my mind! I just want my life back to normal. Does anyone have any ideas on what I can do?

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