Lupus Awareness Month is observed during May to increase public understanding of this unpredictable and potentially life-threatening disease that affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans. Here’s today’s important fact about lupus.
May 1: Lupus is an unpredictable and complex autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and can damage any organ in the body with life-threatening consequences.
May 2: Ninety percent of the people who develop lupus are female. Males also can develop lupus and their disease can be more severe in some organs.
May 3: Lupus develops most often between ages 15 and 44. However, between 10 and 20 percent of cases develop during childhood and these cases can evolve more rapidly into serious health complications.
May 4: In lupus, something goes wrong with the immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs. The result is the production of autoantibodies that causes inflammation.
May 5: Some people have genes that allow them to develop lupus. Factors that may trigger lupus in these people include infections, ultraviolet light, extreme stress, certain prescription drugs, and certain hormones.
May 6: Many symptoms of lupus mimic those of other illnesses, and symptoms can come and go over time, which makes diagnosis more difficult. Consequently, lupus can take three to five years or more to diagnose.
May 7: There is no single laboratory test that can determine whether a person has lupus. Diagnosing lupus involves analyzing the results of several lab tests, a review of the person’s entire medical history, and the history of close family members.
May 8: Lupus is treated by a rheumatologist, a physician who specializes in conditions affecting the joints and muscles. Some people with lupus may need additional care from specialists, like a dermatologist for skin problems, a nephrologist for kidney disease, or a cardiologist for heart complications.