There are 1.5 million people in America who have lupus, and every 9 of 10 are women, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. The word which is usually mentioned in conversations concerning lupus is “unpredictable”.
According to Mallory Dixon, who is 29, it is very difficult to describe lupus since it is so unpredictable. Mallory talks from personal experience and her voice is both purposeful and young at once. From her photo, we could see that she is an attractive and petite brunette, with an excellent taste in clothes and a broad smile.
Lupus can strike at any age, and it does not have ethnic or racial preferences either, says Dixon. Moreover, the symptoms seriousness can vary from patient to patient. Dixon was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was 17 years old, but her symptoms could not be explained for many years. One of her doctors even suggested her to visit a therapist.
Six years after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, she was finally diagnosed with lupus. However, two years later she had difficulty breathing and knew something is not right. For this reason, she went straight to the hospital. When she arrived to the hospital, she was technically dead. The doctors brought her back, but she didn’t go outside for the next 86 days. During this period, she was in a coma, spent some time on a ventilator, was treated with dialysis and received chemotherapy. Nevertheless, the doctors discovered that her symptoms are because lupus has spread on her kidneys and they were shutting down.
Dixon says that doctors believe that they can prevent lupus from spreading to other organs, but an early prevention is necessary. Because of this, it is important to educate young females about the symptoms and what to expect.
Lupus and How It Affect People’s Lives
The first symptom is debilitating fatigue. Some other symptoms are:
- Extreme tiredness
- Swollen or painful joints
- Swelling in the hands, legs, feet or/and around the eyes
- Light or sun sensitivity
- Chest pain when breathing deeply
- Abnormal blood clotting
- Hair loss
- Nose or mouth ulcers
- A butterfly-shaped rush round the nose and the cheeks
- Fingers turning blue or white when cold
Some people can look normal, but they feel terrible, says Stothers. She also adds that it can be impossible to do even the smallest task. Lupus often isolates people, because they look normal on the outside, but terrible inside.
Lupus is known as the great imitator since it often mimics symptoms of bone, muscle, lung and heart disease. It can also mimic rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, thyroid problems, diabetes, and blood disorders. Because of this sharing of symptoms, scientist think that lupus is connected to hormonal and autoimmune disorders.
Dixon added that lupus doesn’t run in her family. She has psoriasis in her family, and that is an autoimmune disease as well.
A number of lupus patients have been diagnosed with a second or third autoimmune disease at some point, so anybody who has been diagnosed needs to be on the lookout for lupus symptoms.
List of most common autoimmune disorders:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Celiac disease
- Reactive arthritis
- Pernicious anemia
- Hashimoto’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Addison’s disease
- Sjögren’s syndrome
- Type 1 diabetes
- Graves’ disease
Causes and Treatments
Stothers explains that there is a genetic component to lupus. However, having the gene does not have to mean that you will develop lupus, hormones and the environment play a crucial role as well. Scientist think that estrogen plays a crucial role here.
Women between the ages of 15 and 44 are the target group. Moreover, a number of women get diagnosed when they are pregnant or giving birth.
Patients with lupus have productive, long and happy lives, but they need to monitor their symptoms all the time. The hard thing with lupus is that you do not know if and when you are going to have a very nasty flare-up. Dixons says that everybody needs to find their triggers and she adds that working too hard, the common cold and stress are hers.
People with lupus are very courageous, but they need all the support they can get from their friends family and the Lupus Foundation.