ZERO.id – 10 Symptoms of Lupus in Women That Need to Watch Out. Although lupus is a disease that can affect all sexes, Womens Health notes that 90 percent of lupus patients are women. Worse, lupus attacks many women who are in their productive period. Head of Division of Rheumatology and Lupus Center at NYU Langone Health, dr. Jill Buyon said that lupus is an incurable autoimmune disease that has not yet found a cure. To recognize it, the following are various symptoms of lupus.
What is lupus?
Lupus is a chronic systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Called chronic because the signs and symptoms appear long enough, about more than six weeks and even years.
In lupus, the immune system is mistaken. In people with lupus, the immune system cannot distinguish between foreign “invaders” from outside and healthy tissue. As a result, antibodies that should have been created to fight germs that cause disease actually attack and destroy healthy tissue in the body.
This condition eventually causes inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body. Inflammation caused by lupus can usually affect the body’s systems including joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs.
Types of lupus
Reporting from the Lupus Foundation of America, this condition which is also called a thousand face disease has four different types, namely:
Systemic lupus erythematosus
This condition is the most common form of lupus. The symptoms can be mild, can also be severe. This disease usually attacks several major organs, namely the kidneys, nervous system and brain, to the heart. Therefore, systemic lupus tends to be more severe than other types of lupus.
Cutaneous lupus erythematosus
In this type, lupus only attacks the skin. As a result, people affected by this condition will have a rash on their skin. Usually a rash that appears is a discoid rash which is a condition when the skin is scaly and reddish but does not feel itchy.
In addition, this type of lupus also causes rashes on the cheeks and nose bridge. This condition is known as a butterfly rash because it resembles the animal’s shape.
In addition, rashes and other sores can appear on the face, mouth, nose, vagina, neck, or scalp, especially areas exposed to sunlight. Hair loss and skin discoloration are also symptoms of this type of lupus.
Lupus erythematosus due to drugs
This type of chronic inflammatory disease is usually caused by certain drugs. Usually the symptoms of lupus triggered by this drug are similar to systemic lupus but rarely to the main organs. Generally the drugs most often associated with this type of lupus, namely:
- Hydralazine, to treat high blood pressure or hypertension.
- Procainamide, to deal with irregular heartbeats.
- Isoniazid, to treat tuberculosis.
This type of lupus is usually more common in men. However, not everyone who uses this drug will experience lupus. Generally, lupus-like symptoms will disappear within six months after this treatment is stopped.
This type of lupus is actually a rare case that attacks a baby girl. This condition is usually caused by antibodies from the mother that affect the baby in the womb. At birth, the baby will experience a skin rash, liver problems, or a low blood cell count.
However, these symptoms will usually disappear completely after a few months. Some babies born with neonatal lupus can also have serious heart abnormalities. With a proper examination, the doctor will help identify risks to the mother so the baby can be treated before birth.
Causes of lupus
Besides being caused by an error in the immune system, this one condition is also often triggered by several conditions, such as:
- Sunlight, exposure can trigger a response in the body in vulnerable people.
- Infection, can trigger lupus or cause recurrence of symptoms in some people.
- Medicines, can be triggered by certain drugs. Usually the symptoms will improve when stopping taking the drug.
Symptoms of lupus
The sooner the disease is detected, the various symptoms can be treated as early and as effectively as possible. However, lupus is sometimes difficult to diagnose because the signs and symptoms are often similar to other diseases. Here are the various symptoms of lupus that should be watched out for.
1. Rash on the face that looks like a butterfly
The first and very characteristic symptom of lupus in women is a skin rash on the face. Usually, the rash will appear like a butterfly, extending from the nose bones, both cheeks, to the jawbone. This type of rash is called a butterfly rash. Usually this happens because the skin is sensitive to light.
2. Muscle and joint pain
Pain in muscles and joints usually appear in the morning when you wake up. In addition to pain, the joints also experience swelling and feel stiff. Usually the affected part is the wrist, knuckles, and fingers. Joint pain in lupus generally only appears on one side of the hand.
In addition, the swelling and pain tend to come and go, not getting worse from day to day like rheumatism.
3. Chest pain
Lupus can trigger inflammation of the membranes lining the lungs and heart. As a result, people who suffer from lupus will feel chest pain and shortness of breath.
4. Easily tired
Lupus is a disease that can cause interference with blood cells. For example, the number of white blood cells that are too low, blood platelets that are too low, or red blood cells that are too low to cause anemia.
As a result, the body becomes easily tired and less excited. Not only that, the body affected by lupus is also more easily fatigued because various organs of your body begin to function disrupted.
5. Kidney problems
Kidney becomes one of the body’s organs that can experience complications due to lupus. Experts think this is associated with antibody cells that should protect the body, instead it attacks the body, one of which is the kidneys. This condition sometimes results in permanent damage to the kidneys.
One of the symptoms of lupus that causes kidney problems, including weight gain, swollen ankles, high blood pressure, and decreased kidney function.
6. Mental disorders and brain function
If someone has lupus, the central nervous system will be disrupted. This condition causes various mental problems such as depression, anxiety, fear, to unwarranted confusion.
Not only that, lupus can also attack the brain which can cause a person to become seizures and memory loss for a while. Therefore, if you experience this accompanied by other symptoms of lupus, immediately consult a doctor to ascertain the cause.
People affected by lupus often have a fever that is usually more than 38 degrees Celsius. This occurs in the body’s response to inflammation and infection.
Therefore, body temperature will increase above normal. If the fever does not go down for days, you need to immediately see a doctor to ask for a proper diagnosis of your current condition.
8. Weight loss suddenly
Sudden weight loss without apparent cause can be a sign of serious illness. In lupus, this is caused by a compromised immune system which ultimately affects certain thyroid and hormones.
As a result, you can lose a few pounds without any apparent reason.
9. Thinning hair
Thinning hair is one of the symptoms of lupus in women due to inflammation of the scalp. Usually this is also caused by thyroid levels that are too low or also called hypothyroidism.
As a result, loss begins to occur slowly. In addition, hair also usually becomes more fragile and easily broken.
10. Oral ulcer
Oral ulcers become one of the symptoms of lupus that appears in the early days. Usually, the wound will be visible on the roof of the mouth, gums, on the inside cheeks, and also the lips. This wound does not always cause pain, but can also be characterized by dry mouth conditions.
Even so, not everyone will experience the ten symptoms of lupus above. It could be that some people only experience one or two symptoms. That is why it is difficult to make these symptoms an absolute reference.
The most important thing is that you must be sensitive to your own body. Do not hesitate to see a doctor if you experience a variety of unusual symptoms and appear without apparent cause.
Risk factors for lupus
Here are various factors that make a person more susceptible to lupus compared to others, namely:
- Gender, compared to men, this chronic inflammatory disease attacks women more often.
- Age, although it often occurs in all ages range of age, but this condition most often strikes at the age of 15 to 45 years.
- Race, is more common in native Hispanic, Asian and American women.
- Family history, people whose families have lupus are more at risk of developing this disease.
Complications of lupus
Inflammation caused by lupus can affect various parts of the body, such as:
- Kidney, causing serious kidney damage and kidney failure.
- The brain and central nervous system, causing problems with memory, confusion, headaches, and strokes.
- Blood and blood vessels, causing inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis).
- Lungs, increases the risk of pleurisy, lung bleeding, and pneumonia.
- The heart, causes inflammation of the heart muscle, arteries and heart membranes.
- Infection, people with lupus are more susceptible to any type of infection.
- Cancer, increases the risk of cancer even though it is less likely.
- Bone tissue death, occurs due to reduced blood supply to the bone.
- Complicating pregnancy, lupus increases the risk of preeclampsia and premature birth.
Treatment of lupus
There is no specific drug to treat lupus. However, certain medications can help relieve symptoms. In addition, some drugs are also intended to reduce the risk of organ damage. The following medications are usually prescribed for people with lupus, namely:
Anti-inflammatory and pain relievers
Anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers can be used to help relieve symptoms of lupus, such as fever, arthritis, and pain in other parts of the body. Aspirin, acetaminophen, naproxen, and ibuprofen are medicines that doctors often prescribe.
This drug is made to help reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain when touched on inflamed body parts.
Prednisone is a type of corticoseroid drug most often prescribed for people with a disease that is also known as a thousand face disease.
Methylprednisolone as a high-dose corticosteroid drug is often used to control serious problems in the kidneys and brain. The side effects that often arise are weight gain, easy bruising, brittle bones, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of infection.
Antimalaria is a prescription drug that contains a combination of steroids with other drugs. Usually this one drug is most often prescribed when people with lupus experience skin rashes, mouth sores, and joint pain.
In addition, this drug is also quite effective to help overcome inflammation and mild blood clots.
Antimalarial drugs reduce the production of autoantibodies in the immune system to protect the effects of damage from lupus. Usually the two most commonly prescribed antimalarials are hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil®) and chloroquine (Aralen®).
However, unlike corticosteroids, antimalarial drugs have effects that tend to be slower when dealing with lupus symptoms. The side effects produced by this drug tend to be mild, such as abdominal pain and skin discoloration.
Medications that suppress the immune system are usually used to control inflammation due to an overactive immune system. Especially if the steroid is no longer able to control the symptoms of lupus.
Azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan), mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept) and methotrexate (Trexall) are types of drugs that doctors usually prescribe. However, this drug also has side effects that cannot be underestimated such as an increased risk of infection, liver damage, decreased fertility, and an increased risk of cancer.
Blood clots are one of the symptoms of lupus that can be life threatening. For this reason, doctors will usually prescribe anticoagulant drugs to help thin the blood. Anticoagulants that are often used, namely low-dose aspirin, heparin (Calciparine®, Liquaemin®), and warfarin (Coumadin®).
Besides medication, there are several other habits that can help ease pain or reduce the recurrence of lupus symptoms, namely:
- Doing light exercise to help maintain overall body health.
- Protect yourself from sun exposure with closed clothes and sunscreen.
- Stay away from stress so that symptoms don’t get worse.
- Stop smoking to avoid the negative effects of lupus on the heart.
- Eat healthy food with balanced nutrition.