HOUSTON LUPUS


Houston Unites Against Lupus

A Division of the MWAID Foundation

MWAID Houston Lupus is a division of MWAID. MWAID’s primary autoimmune disease focus is lupus because when one has lupus the immune system can attack all or any part of the human body including major organs such as the brain, kidneys, heart/ blood vessels, and lungs. Systemic Lupus or lupus is the most common and devastating form of lupus. Lupus, Latin for “wolf,” is an insidious disease, aptly named for the way the wolf attacks its prey. Lupus can be difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat. There is no cure for lupus yet!

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, also known as SLE, or simply lupus, is characterized by periodic episodes of inflammation of and damage to the joints, tendons, other connective tissues, and organs, including the heart, lungs, blood vessels, brain, kidneys, and skin. The heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain are the organs most affected. Lupus affects each individual differently, and the effects of the illness range from mild to severe. Lupus can potentially be fatal.

The majority of people who have lupus are young women in their late teens to mid-40s. This may be due to the fact that the hormone estrogen seems to be associated with lupus. Lupus affects more African-Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans than Caucasian Americans. In children, lupus occurs most often at the age of 15 and older. About 25,000 children and adolescents have lupus or a related disorder, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

The disease is known to have periods of flare-ups and periods of remission, when patients experience a partial or complete lack of symptoms. The severity of the kidney involvement can alter the survival rate of patients with lupus. In some cases, severe kidney damage leads to kidney failure.

Symptoms of Lupus

Lupus symptoms are usually chronic and relapsing. Each patient experiences symptoms differently, but the following are the most common:

  • Anemia
  • Discoid rash – a raised rash found on the head, arms, chest, or back
  • Fever
  • Inflammation of the joints
  • Fluid around the lungs, heart, or other organs
  • Kidney problems
  • Hair loss
  • Low white blood cell or low platelet count
  • Malar rash – a rash shaped like a butterfly usually found on the bridge of the nose and the cheeks
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nerve or brain dysfunction
  • Raynaud's phenomenon – a condition in which the blood vessels of the fingers and toes go into spasms when triggered by factors such as cold, stress, or illness
  • Sunlight sensitivity
  • Weight loss

Evaluation

Lupus is difficult to diagnose because of the vagueness of the symptoms each person might have.
There is no cure for lupus. However, Lupus physicians will evaluate your complete medical history, reported symptoms, and perform a physical examination that may include numerous diagnostic tools including blood and urine tests and X-rays.

Treatments

If lupus symptoms are mild, treatment may not be necessary, other than possibly nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) for joint pain. Other treatment may include:

  • Immediate treatment of infection
  • Corticosteroids (to control inflammation)
  • Hydroxychloroquine, quinacrine, chloroquine, or a combination of these medications
  • Immunosuppressive medication (to suppress the body's autoimmune system)
  • Liberal use of sunscreen, decreased time outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., wearing hats and long sleeves when outdoors
  • Rest, including at least eight to 10 hours of sleep at night; naps and breaks during the day
  • Stress reduction
  • Well-balanced diet