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What Is Lupus? — an article on the Smart Living Network
July 29, 2007 at 2:51 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

What Is Lupus?

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According to the Lupus Foundation of America, up to two million Americans are currently suffering from some form of lupus. Due to possible untreated cases, the number could be even higher than that. Lupus typically affects women -- 90 percent of patients are female. Lupus typically surfaces during the ages of 15 and 45.Lupus is a disease of the autoimmune system that can affect many parts of the body, in particular the heart, lungs, blood, kidneys, brain, joints and skin. In a patient with lupus, the immune system lacks the ability to determine which cells are foreign and which cells are its own. Typically, the immune system will make antibodies that will fight bacteria or viruses that don't belong in the body. In a body with lupus that can't ascertain which cells need to be destroyed and which cells belong, the immune system responds to this confusion by forming antibodies that attack itself.

Pain and damage can then occur to the parts of the body where this occurs. A tell-tale sign of lupus is inflammation. Other common symptoms include painful joints, fevers, arthritis, fatigue, anemia, kidney trouble, chest paint, and rashes on the skin particularly in the face. Other symptoms may include hair loss, light sensitivity, blood clotting, seizures and ulcers of the mouth or nose. An estimated 16,000 Americans develop lupus each year. For a majority of them, lupus is a mild disease that affects only the skin or joints. For some, however, lupus can be life-threatening, and cause damage to important internal organs. In extreme cases, a severe inflammation of the kidneys can negatively affect the filtration of wastes. Over time, there can be so much damage that dialysis or kidney transplants could be called for.

Severe lupus can also cause heart problems, including a hardening of the arteries (which can lead to heart attacks) or inflammation of the muscles in the heart, which could cause congestive heart failure. As of now, lupus has no cure. However, getting treated properly and early on can keep the disease in check by minimizing symptoms, lessening pain and inflammation, and put a stop to the additional development of the disease. Depending on the severity and advancement of the disease, treatment methods can vary and can be handled by a variety of specialists depending on where the disease is causing problems. An array of medicines can also be used to assist in lupus cases. Research has indicated that glycans are influential in the immune system by optimizing cell communication and healing, which may assist in recognizing foreign cells from home cells as well as repairing already damaged tissues.

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