According to the Lupus Foundation of America, around 1.5 million people in the country are living with different types of lupus. It is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammations throughout the body. In this condition, the immune system of our body is attacking the healthy tissues and cause inflammation and breakdown of cells. Lupus mostly affects the skin, joints, and internal organs like kidneys and heart. Without proper treatment, lupus can become very severe.
The treatment of lupus focuses on reducing the inflammation and easing the lupus symptoms such as extreme fatigue, painful or swollen joints, high fever, anemia, hair loss, abnormal blood clotting, and mouth ulcers. People might not know that they are suffering from lupus because these symptoms are often similar to the symptoms of other diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, blood disorders, thyroid problems, and Lyme disease. Therefore, lupus is known as “the great imitator”.
The exact cause of lupus is still unknown. But some healthcare experts think that it may be a combination of many factors including genetics, environment, hormones, infections, and side effects of medications. Studies have found that more than 50 genes are associated with lupus. Smoking, stress, and exposure to toxins can also trigger lupus. Abnormal estrogen level and infections like cytomegalovirus can also cause different forms of lupus affecting the human body.
In this article, we will discuss about the different types of lupus and their causes.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE, is the most familiar and common type of lupus. It will have an impact throughout the body of the affected person. The symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus range from mild to severe. This type of lupus can cause inflammation in the skin, joints, blood, lungs, kidneys, and heart. The symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus may get worse over time, known as flares and then suddenly improve, known as remissions.
The inflammation in the kidneys due to systemic lupus erythematosus is called lupus nephritis. It will affect the ability of the body to filter waste from the blood. When it gets severe, the affected person may need dialysis or a kidney transplant. Systemic lupus erythematosus can cause inflammation in the blood vessels of the brain and can cause high fevers, seizures, and changes in behavior. Coronary artery disease can be also caused due to systemic lupus erythematosus that can lead to a heart attack.
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus
Discoid lupus erythematosus, or also known as Cutaneous lupus erythematosus is a kind of lupus disease that is limited only to the skin. It causes rashes and lesions on the skin. This type of lupus got its name because of the discoid rash it causes. Discoid rashes are raised, scaly and red; but they are not itchy. The raised areas of the rash will become tick and scaly. It may last for a couple of days, but in severe cases, the rashes will last for years and it may recur.
Discoid lupus erythematosus can also cause rashes over the cheeks and across the nose. This type of rash is known as the butterfly rash. Other rashes may appear on different parts of the body, including neck, scald, inside the mouth, or vagina. Other symptoms of discoid lupus erythematosus are hair loss and changes in the color of the skin. This type of lupus does not affect the internal organs. But according to the Lupus Foundation of America, around 10 % of people with discoid lupus erythematosus will go on to develop systemic lupus erythematosus.
Neonatal lupus is a rare condition that affects infants who are born to women suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus. It is caused by the transmission of autoimmune antibodies from the mother to the infant in the womb. Infants born with neonatal lupus develop skin rashes, liver problems or low blood cell counts. These symptoms won’t have any long-lasting effects.
Congenital heart block is found in some infants who are born with neonatal lupus. This is a life-threatening condition in which the heart cannot regulate a normal pumping action. Not all babies born to women affected with systemic lupus erythematosus develop neonatal lupus. Most babies are born healthy and only one percent of them are at risk of developing the disease.
About 10 percent of people with systemic lupus erythematosus will have a negative reaction to some prescription drugs. This may develop into Drug-induced lupus. About 80 drugs may cause these negative effects and can lead to drug-induced lupus. Most of these drugs are used for the treatment of seizures and high blood pressure. This type of lupus is very common among men because of the frequent use of these drugs.
The symptoms of drug-induced lupus will disappear within six months for some people. Even though drug-induced lupus mimics the symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus, the condition does not affect the internal organs usually. But it can cause pericarditis and pleurisy. This type of lupus usually goes away once the person stops taking the medication.