COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - May is Lupus Awareness month and nearly 1.5 million Americans suffer from the disease.
Dr. Paula Walker King from Columbus State University stopped by the morning show on Tuesday to talk about Lupus, what it is and how it's treated.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect the joints and almost every major organ in the body, including the heart, kidneys, skin, lungs and brain.
In autoimmune disorders such as lupus, the immune system, which is designed to protect against infection, mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues and organs.
Lupus occurs more frequently in women than men. More than 90 percent of people with lupus are women. It isn't clear why.
Lupus is more common in people of color. It is three times more common in African American women than Caucasian women. It is also more prevalent in women of Latino, Asian and Native American descent.
- Gender: more common in females
- Age: usually diagnosed between ages 15-45 although can affect people of all ages
- Race/Ethnicity: more common in African Americans
- Family history significant for the disease
No one knows what causes lupus. Scientists think that people are born with the genes to develop lupus and that something brings on or "triggers" the disease and symptoms.
Triggers can include drugs or medications, stress, sunlight, etc. The most common symptoms of lupus are:
- butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose
- sun- or light-sensitivity (photosensitivity)
- extreme fatigue (tiredness)
- painful or swollen joints
A variety of tests are used to confirm the diagnosis.
Examples include: CBC, Sedimentation rate, U/A, kidney and liver tests, ANA test, CXR, EKG.
Heretofore, lupus has been treated with several non-specific medications like anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, immunosuppressant and anti-malarial drugs.
A drug called Benlysta (blocks B lymphocyte stimulator), is also available and may being able to better control the symptoms of this disease.
For more information, visit the Lupus Foundation of America website by clicking here.