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Lupus; Key Q&A.



What causes lupus?

The immune system of a person with lupus is unbalanced, and this leads to excess targeting of normal tissue, causing inflammation, fever, achy joints, rashes and other problems. Virtually all lupus patients have autoantibodies in their blood at concentrations that can be detected by lab tests.

What are my risks for having lupus?

There is no way to predict who will get lupus and who won't. Women of childbearing age comprise the vast majority of cases, and the disease occurs more frequently in African-Americans, American Indians and Asians than in Caucasians. Risk to develop lupus is inherited, but only through a complicated series of interacting genes that may not be the same in all patients. People at high risk for lupus are more likely to develop it after exposure to an environmental trigger, which again, may not be identical in all patients. It is likely that some people with high risk genes for lupus will never develop the disease due to the lack of an environmental trigger.

Is there anything I can do to prevent lupus?

No. The disease is treatable and flares are controllable, but no one has discovered means of limiting your chances of developing the disease.

What are the most common symptoms of lupus?

The more common symptoms of lupus include joint pain, arthritis, unexplained fever, extended or severe fatigue, skin rashes, anemia and kidney damage. Other symptoms include neuropsychiatric neu·ro·psy·chi·a·try  
n.
The medical study of disorders with both neurological and psychiatric features.



neu
 problems, such as seizures, blood clotting problems, light sensitivity, hair loss, Raynaud's syndrome (fingers turning white or blue in the cold) and mouth or nose ulcers.

Is lupus curable?

Lupus is not curable, but it is treatable. Your health care professional can prescribe medications to alleviate symptoms, such as pain and inflammation. You can take action as well, by eating right, exercising, avoiding sunlight and getting plenty of rest.

Is it safe to have a baby even though I have lupus?

About 20 percent of lupus pregnancies have risk of miscarriage or stillbirth and about 25 percent are premature births. Preeclampsia preeclampsia /pre·eclamp·sia/ (pre?e-klamp´se-ah) a toxemia of late pregnancy, characterized by hypertension, proteinuria, and edema.

pre·e·clamp·si·a
n.
 is a potentially life-threatening condition that seems to occur more frequently in lupus patients. The risk for these outcomes increases if you have antiphospholipid antibodies. The good news is that appropriate treatments and specialized care from a high-risk OB team can markedly increase the odds for a successful and safe pregnancy. One to three percent of babies born to mothers with lupus are born with neonatal lupus, a condition that often resolves itself within three to six months. If you have certain autoantibodies (SSA-Ro and/or SSB La), you may need a fetal echocardiogram ech·o·car·di·o·gram
n.
A visual record produced by echocardiography.


Echocardiogram
A non-invasive ultrasound test that shows an image of the inside of the heart.
 during your pregnancy. In most cases, this will lead to reassurance that the baby is fine. If you have a history of a stroke or current, active lupus kidney disease, it is not advisable to become pregnant.

What drugs are available to treat lupus?

Drugs prescribed for lupus include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, such as aspirin or ibuprofen; acetaminophen; antimalarials such as hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and chloroquine chloroquine /chlo·ro·quine/ (klor´o-kwin) an antiamebic and anti-inflammatory used in the treatment of malaria, giardiasis, extraintestinal amebiasis, lupus erythematosus, and rheumatoid arthritis; used also as the hydrochloride and  (Aralen), corticosteroids such as prednisone or medrol; immune suppressants such as azathioprine (Imuran), methotrexate (Rheumatrex). mycophenolate mofetil (Cellcept) and leflunamide (Arava),; and cytotoxic drugs such as cyclophosphamide cyclophosphamide /cy·clo·phos·pha·mide/ (-fos´fah-mid) a cytotoxic alkylating agent of the nitrogen mustard group; used as an antineoplastic, as an immunosuppressant to prevent transplant rejection, and to treat some diseases  (Cytoxan).

How can flares be prevented or the symptoms lessened?

A lupus flare can occur for no discernible reason, although some patients believe that they have experienced triggers for the flares, such as sunlight, stress, overwork, infection, injuries, surgery and immunizations.

References

The Lupus Foundation of America The Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) is the nation's leading non-profit voluntary health organization dedicated to finding the causes of and cure for lupus. The LFA was founded in 1977, and currently operates a nationwide network of almost 300 chapters, branches and support groups. . 2008. http://www.lupus.org. Accessed June 2008.

"Lupus Causes." The Mayo Clinic. October 2007. http://www.mayoclinic.com. Accessed February 2008.

"Medicines." The Lupus Foundation of America. 2008. http://www.lupus.org. Accessed February 2008.

"COX-2 Selective and Non-Selective Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)." U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Drug Evaluation and Research The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research is a division of the FDA that deals with the approval of drugs. CDER reviews New Drug Applications to ensure that the drugs are safe and effective. It is one of five Centers at the United States Food and Drug Administration. . http://www.fda.gov. Updated April 15, 2005. Accessed June 3, 2005.

"FDA Issues Public Health Advisory on Vioxx as its Manufacturer Voluntarily Withdraws Its Product." U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov. Accessed October 1, 2004.

Lupus Foundation of America. http://www.lupus.org. Accessed June 8, 2004.

http://www.lupus.org. Accessed June 8, 2004.

http://clinicalstudies.info.nih.gov. Accessed June 8, 2004.

"Lupus: A Patient Care Guide for Nurses and Other Health Care Professionals." erythematosus." National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. May 2001. http://www.niams.nih.gov. Accessed June 8, 2004.

"Handout on Health: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Definition

Systemic lupus erythematosus (also called lupus or SLE) is a disease where a person's immune system attacks and injures the body's own organs and tissues. Almost every system of the body can be affected by SLE.
." National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Revised August 2003 http://www.niams.nih.gov. Accessed June 8, 2004.

"Patient Information Sheet #1: Living With Lupus." National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. May 2001. http://www.niams.nih.gov. Accessed June 8, 2004.

"Treatment." Lupus Foundation of America. http://www.lupus.org. Accessed June 8, 2004

"Lupus is a Significant Health Issue for Women and People of Color Noun 1. people of color - a race with skin pigmentation different from the white race (especially Blacks)
people of colour, colour, color

race - people who are believed to belong to the same genetic stock; "some biologists doubt that there are important
." May 2001. The National Women's Health Information Center. http://www.4woman.gov. Accessed June 8, 2004.

"Drugs Approved by the FDA: Drug Name: Mobicr (meloxicam) Tablets" CenterWatch Clinical Trials Listing Service. Updated Nov. 14 2000. http://www.centerwatch.com. Acessed June 8, 2004.

"Targets for New SLE SLE systemic lupus erythematosus.

SLE
abbr.
systemic lupus erythematosus


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) 
 Treatments" Division of Rheumatology of The Hospital for Special Surgery. January 2002. http://rheumatology.hss.edu. Accessed June 8, 2004.

Keywords: lupus, systemic lupus erythematosus, sle, lupus patients, women, flares, symptoms, medications, pregnancy, corticosteroids
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Publication:NWHRC Health Center - Lupus
Article Type:Disease/Disorder overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 19, 2008
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