Diseases & Side Effects Health

What Is Lupus?

I still remember the day of 30 March 2015. All of you might be thinking that what happened that day and how it is link with lupus.

My maternal aunt Batool died on that day as she was suffering from SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) which is one of the most serious types of lupus. SLE which is an autoimmune disorder or simply known as Lupus is something that I had seen from very close in the past years.

What Is Lupus

Lupus is Latin for “wolf”: the disease was so-named in the 13th century as the rash was thought to appear like a wolf’s bite.

My aunt Batool had lived only for eight years after the doctor diagnoses her with SLE. Doctors almost take 2-3 years in her case to diagnose this disease. As the disease has the symptoms in common with many other diseases and often mimics or is mistaken for other illnesses.

She first visited the doctor because she had joint pains and fatigue. Doctors stated that she has arthritis and give her medicines for that but as you know now it was SLE and doctors mistakenly diagnose the disease wrong due to its symptoms and find the true cause of joint pain in later years when more and more symptoms started to appear.

The disease is unpredictable in the start and diagnosis can be elusive, with some people having unexplained symptoms of SLE for years.

During her life, I had seen the classic butterfly rashes on her face. Doctors also diagnosed her medical issue because of the butterfly rashes, which are one of the most common symptoms in Lupus. These rashes occur in 30-60% of people with SLE.

SLE Plays With Every Organ Within You

In my view, SLE plays with every organ within you. It starts its journey with fever, malaise (feeling of general discomfort), joint pain, fatigue, low white blood cells count, attack on the nervous system, arthritis, psychiatric symptoms, chest pain, skin problems, Serositis (Inflammation of tissues lining the lungs and heart), mouth ulcers and kidney diseases.

Aunt Batool also died when she was having her dialysis as her kidneys had stopped working.

When you have lupus, something happens to your body’s natural defense system (your immune system) to make it work incorrectly. Instead of only targeting bad things like viruses and bacteria, it also attacks healthy cells and tissues.

Periods Of Flares And Remissions

I must stay that this disease plays a very, very dirty game with every single organ in your body. The strange thing about this disease is that people have it without knowing it. The disease has the ability to sleep in the human body and it is possible that it remains in that dormant condition for the whole life.

Often there are periods of illness, called Flares and period of remission during which there are few symptoms.

Lupus Is A Condition That Few People Know About

In light of the aftereffects of a review from the Lupus Foundation of America, around 72% of Americans aged 18-34 have either not known about the sickness or know nothing about it other than the name, in spite of the fact that people within these age groups are at most serious hazard for the condition.Selena Gomez during Lupus

Lupus increased more consideration from people in general in 2015 after singer Selena Gomez declared that she had been determined to have the condition in her late teens and experienced treatment for the sickness. Selena Gomez was suffering from Lupus nephritis and had gone through a kidney transplant.

Types of Lupus

There are four types of lupus:

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Systemic lupus erythematosus is the most widely recognized type of lupus and is generally thought to be more serious than the other three forms.

SLE can affect many parts of a human body including the kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, blood, and skin. Symptoms have the ability to change and vary from person to person and can change frequently and abruptly. Lupus can follow an unpredictable pattern of remissions (Improve symptoms) and flares (Worse symptoms).

Discoid (Cutaneous) or Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE)

Discoid is a form of lupus that only affects the skin and causes rashes. These rashes may be anywhere but are usually found on the face, neck, and scalp. This type of lupus does not affect any of the internal body organs although 1 in 10 people living with discoid lupus will develop systemic lupus.

DLE/CLE or Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus is broken down into several types depending on the rashes it creates:

Chronic Cutaneous Lupus (CCLE)

The most common form of CCLE is discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), named for its disc-like rashes. Normally, the rashes that appear on the facial area, such as the forehead and cheeks, are red and scaly, but interestingly, they aren’t actually itchy. Once the rashes subside, scarring and hair loss may occur.

Subacute Cutaneous Lupus (SCLE)

This type of lupus is categorized by two types of rashes: papulosquamous and annular lesions. Papulosquamous lesions are red, scaly patches that resemble psoriasis rashes, while annular lesions are ring-shaped rashes that have a small number of scales on their edges.

Acute Cutaneous Lupus (ACLE)

ACLE is characterized by sunburn-like rashes on the cheeks, called a butterfly rash. Large, flat red patches can also be present on the arms, legs, and torso. Another characteristic of ACLE is its sensitivity to light and therefore appears on areas of skin that are exposed to sunlight. Once ACLE rashes subside, they do not leave scarring, but may change the pigment of the area affected.

Michael Jackson with lupus

Michael Jackson was diagnosed with lupus in 1986.  Due to the condition, Jackson stated that he was sensitive to UV light, which is why he frequently wore hats, masks, and sunglasses.

Drug-Induced Lupus (DIL)

Drug-induced Lupus (DIL) occurs after a person takes certain types of medication. The symptoms are similar to systemic lupus, but they usually disappear when the medicine is stopped. Symptoms are typically gone within six months; however, the Antinuclear Antibody (ANA) test can be used to help diagnose lupus. To know further about this test scroll down below.

Neonatal Lupus

In rare cases, the newborn of a mom with lupus or another autoimmune disease may have neonatal lupus. This condition can cause skin rashes, anemia or liver problems. Symptoms usually go away after a few months on their own and don’t cause permanent damage. Some babies with neonatal lupus can be born with a serious heart defect.

Who Gets Lupus? 90% Are Women

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, approximately 1.5 million people in the U.S. have lupus. People of African, Asian, and Native American descent are more likely to develop lupus than are Caucasians.

Although it can occur in men and women, 90% of people diagnosed with the disease are women. Women of childbearing age (14 to 45 years old) are most often affected and many as 1 in 250 people may develop lupus.

Causes Of Lupus Are Unkown

The reason for lupus is not clear. However, there seems, by all accounts, to be something that triggers the immune system to attack different zones of the body. That’s why suppressing the immune system is one of the main forms of treatment. Finding the cause is the object of major research efforts.

Until now researchers are of the view that the following three might be the suspects.

  • Environmental
  • The genetic makeup of the person
  • Hormones

Female hormones are thought to play a role in the development of lupus because women are affected by lupus much more often than men. This is particularly true of women during their reproductive years, a time when hormone levels are at their peak.

How Is Lupus Diagnosed?

Lupus is diagnosed when a person has several features of the disease (including symptoms, findings on examination, and blood test abnormalities). The American College of Rheumatology has devised criteria to assist doctors in making the correct diagnosis of lupus.

A person should have at least four of the following 11 criteria, either at the same time or one after the other, to be classified as having lupus. These criteria include:

  • Malar rash, a “butterfly” rash that appears on the cheeks.
  • Oral ulcers (open mouth sores).
  • Discoid rash, red, scaly patches on the skin that cause scarring.
  • Photosensitivity, a skin reaction or sensitivity to sunlight.
  • A neurological disorder, seizures, or psychosis.
  • Arthritis, pain, inflammation, or swelling of the joints.
  • Kidney disorder, either excess protein in the urine (proteinuria) or red blood cells in the urine.
  • Inflammation of the lining around the lungs (pleuritis) or of the lining around the heart (pericarditis)
  • Immunologic disorder, including the presence of certain cells or autoantibodies, or a false-positive test result for syphilis.
  • Blood disorder, either low red blood cell count (anemia), low white blood cell count (leukopenia), the decrease in lymphocytes (lymphopenia), or decrease in blood platelets (thrombocytopenia).
  • Positive ANA test.

What Is an Antinuclear Antibody Test?

An antinuclear antibody (ANA) test is a sensitive screening tool used to detect autoimmune diseases, including lupus. ANAs are antibodies that are directed against certain structures within a cell’s nucleus (thus, antinuclear antibody). ANAs are found in particular patterns in people with autoimmune diseases (those in which a person’s immune system works against his or her own body).

This test is done on a sample of a person’s blood. The test determines the strength of the antibodies by measuring how many times the person’s blood must be diluted to get a sample that is free of antibodies.

Does This Test Mean That I Have Lupus?

Not really. The antinuclear antibody test is positive in most people who have lupus, but it also may be positive in many people who are healthy or have another autoimmune disease. Therefore, a positive ANA test alone is not adequate for the diagnosis of lupus.

There must be at least three additional clinical features from the list of 11 features for the diagnosis to be made.

Science Behind Lupus, An Overview

There Is No Cure For SLE

There is no cure for SLE. Treatments may include NSAIDs, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, hydroxychloroquine, and methotrexate.

Alternative medicine has not been shown to affect the disease. Life expectancy is lower among people with SLE.

SLE significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease with this being the most common cause of death. With modern treatment, about 80% of those affected survive more than 15 years. Women with lupus have pregnancies that are at higher risk like premature birth but are mostly successful.

If you are suffering from Lupus and SLE or knows someone with it then you are free as always to share your experiences and feelings with me. You can also leave a message for people facing this medical condition.  And remember don’t be a victim of this, never. In the end, I want to say that Aunt Batool you will always be in our hearts, Rest in peace.

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