Lupus is the diagnosis; can you explain autoimmunity?

Finally, a diagnosis of lupus, a reason for years of unexplained aches and pains. This is not the time to get out the party hats: but you have suffered for years. Before telling people that you have an abnormal immune system, why not understand what’s normal?

Our immune systems defend our bodies from disease and one of the immune system’s major players is a protein, called an antibody. Antibodies wait in constant surveillance for foreign invaders, or antigens. Antibodies attach to antigens and destroy them like
pac-men.

Occasionally,  the antibodies attack the body’s own tissues, not foreign tissues. This is called autoimmunity; in short, a failure of our bodies to differentiate self from ‘non-self.’ If the attack is on the heart, you may experience lupus pericarditis, if the attack is on the lungs, you may have lupus pleuritis (the largest pulmonary complication of lupus) or pulmonary hypertension. Attacks like these, against the body cause massive inflammation and tissue or cell injury, which we call lupus.

There are a lot of symptoms of lupus, but most are the result of these: inflammation and injury to tissue and cells. Inflammation of lupus is often measured by blood tests and is noticed by the massive inflammation that accompanies lupus and tissue cell injury also accompanies this inflammation.

Approximately 70% of lupus cases are neither drug-induced, neonatal nor discoid. They are systemic (meaning they involve the whole body) and are represented by the name systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Discoid lupus, or cutaneous lupus, is noted to have heavy skin involvement. But eventually, 40-70 % of discoid lupus sufferers develop SLE.

It used to be thought that women with lupus could not and should not conceive. Now, it is possible to conceive and give birth; though the pregnancy is thought to be high-risk.

When pregnant women have lupus, on occasion their autoantibodies travel through across the placenta and through the fetal circulation; attacking the cells of the fetus. This is called neonatal lupus and children with neonatal lupus are at risk for premature birth and heart block.

Drug-induced lupus, as the name suggests, is often caused by certain medications. Example of medications that might cause drug-induced lupus are, dilantin  (epilepsy). Surprisingly enough, some of the medications used to treat lupus, cause drug-induced lupus. Medications used to treat other chronic illnesses can cause drug-induced lupus.

The video below is the best explanation of what lupus is, but a reputable organization. So, if you have only a few minutes to to explain to your family why you have the symptoms you do, this ia a must, not-withstanding the commercials.

What is Lupus?

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4 Replies to “Lupus is the diagnosis; can you explain autoimmunity?”

  1. christie Posted on I too was rtcenely diagnosed with Discoid Lupus. I broke out in a rash on my back and my ears became inflamed. Made an appointment with the doctor and he too did a biopsy (took 2 one off my ear and the other off my back) It came back as lupus. Good news for Discoid Lupus patients is that we are less likely to get SLE, which causes organ failure. But make sure you are doing your blood work. The meds can cause liver and kidney failure and in some cases blindness. We will suffer from hairloss, depression, weightgain and joint ach. I am finding the trick is to wake up every morning and just smile some days are easier than others but I, personally can not live my life being afraid of every little thing. The one major change I have made is staying out of the sun and florecent light has helpped alot.

    1. Even though it’s a slow process, I’m glad you’re finding ways to deal with your discoid lupus. I found that the hard thing is that many people don’t understand that you have an illness when on somedays you look normal. But I have found that if I dwell on all but complications from SLE that I could develop, I’d be a basket case!

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