May is Lupus Awareness Month
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage skin, joints, and/or organs. Normally our immune systems produce proteins called “antibodies” Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between the foreign invaders(viruses and bacteria)and your own body cells. These autoantibodies cause pain, inflammation, and damage in various parts of the body. More than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually in the US. At least 1.5 million Americans have lupus. Lupus is more common in women between the ages of 15-44. Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians. Relatives of people with lupus have a 5-13 percent chance of developing lupus.
Common symptoms of lupus are:
Fatigue, painful or swollen joints, fever, swelling in feet, legs, hands, and/or around eyes, butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose, sun- or light-sensitivity, hair loss, fingers turning white and/or blue when cold (Raynaud’s phenomenon), mouth or nose ulcers.Many of these symptoms are seen in other diseases. In fact, lupus is sometimes called “the great imitator”.
Types of lupus:
- Systemic lupus is the most common form, what most people mean when they refer to “lupus.
- Cutaneous Lupus is limited to the skin.
- Drug-induced caused by certain drugs.
- Neonatal lupus is a rare condition that affects infants of women with lupus caused by antibodies from the mother acting upon the infant in the womb.
- Treatment includes lifestyle changes including eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet and regular exercising. Yoga, tai chi, and Pilates can be very useful for those with lupus.
Pain meds including anti-inflammatory drugs, antimalarial therapy, corticosteroids, immunosuppressive treatment (immune modulators) and monoclonal antibodies.
Lupus is a disease with flare-ups and remissions.
Although there is no cure for lupus today, the prognosis of lupus has improved with better treatment options and 80-90% of people with lupus can expect to live a normal lifespan.
Dr. Mahesh Ochaney is a solo practitioner who has been practicing Internal Medicine since 1991. Dr. Ochaney’s compassionate primary care has been recognized several times over the years, including being named a 2018 Top Doctor by Baltimore Magazine and receiving a State of Maryland Governor’s Citation.