“We’ve just been introduced…”

Finally, a diagnosis, a reason for years of unexplained aches and pains. It’s not time to get out the party hats, but now that you have a diagnosis, there are more treatment options. However, before telling people that you have an abnormal immune system, shouldn’t you 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 rest in constant surveillance for foreign invaders, or antigens. Antibodies attach to antigens and destroy them like
pac-men.

Occasionally, this destruction occurs when antigens aren’t present, so the antibodies attack the body’s own tissues, it’s own cells. This is called autoimmunity; in short, a failure of our bodies to recognize itself as ‘friendly.’ 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. The 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, by 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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