Saturday, December 14, 2013

What Is Lupus: An Answer For Average Joe

What is Lupus?

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a non-contagious, autoimmune disease that isn't much fun. It means you can't give Lupus to other people. If you'd like to read a more scientific, doctor-ly explanation of Lupus, you can click here. For a simplified version keep reading.
Can you tell who the good and bad guys are?
Neither can my body.

I describe Lupus to my friends like this:

There is a colossal war inside my body. My body has never seen a war like this before. It is my body's version of England's 100 year war and it will probably last for a similar length of time.

Like any battle, there are the good guys (myself) and bad guys (germs and bacteria and anything that wants to take over). The good guys were doing a good job defending the castle and keeping me healthy and alive until Shakespeare started writing the rest of my story. Some of the good guys were ambushed. But it wasn't an ambush by the enemy. This was friendly fire. The good guys are now mistakenly attacking themselves and anything that moves. You would think this would make me nearly invincible. No. Instead, this is giving the bad guys a chance to sneak around my body's defenses and attack me, too.

Unless my body's immune system miraculously realizes the error it is making, my body will be a war I slowly lose. But it's a battle worth fighting.

What Are The Symptoms Of SLE Lupus?

In order to get the diagnosis of Lupus, you need meet 4 of the 11 criteria the American College of Rheumatology has set. Here is that list.

  1. Butterfly rash (A face rash on the cheeks and nose that does not go past laugh lines)
  2. Discoid rash
  3. Sun sensitivity (A rash when you are exposed to UV light)
  4. Oral ulcerations (Sores you reoccuringly get in the mouth or nose. Definitely not fun)
  5. Arthritis (Just means inflammation of joints)
  6. Serositis (Inflammation of the lining of the lung or heart)
  7. Kidney Disorder (this is why they check for protein in your urine)
  8. Neurologic Disorder (seizures or psychosis)
  9. Blood abnormalities
  10. Immunologic disorder (shown in blood tests, like anti-DNA, false positive syphilis tests, etc.)
  11. Positive ANA (Antinuclear Antibodies) blood test

Is Lupus Curable?

At this point in time, there is no cure for Lupus. There are only ways to manage symptoms. Eating healthy, getting exercise, and joining a support group are just a few of the ways you can manage Lupus and all of the challenges it brings. The best person to talk to about managing your Lupus is your doctor. Every Lupus case is different and only you and your doctor know what you need.

My questions for you:
What has been your greatest challenge and how have you learned to deal with it?

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter for more Lupus fun and facts: @ConquerLupus

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