Lupus; it can be life threatening, life changing and is incurable. But it is also treatable, survivable and most importantly, many aspects of the disease can be managed by you. The first step is to understand what is happening within and to your body.
Things You Should Know About Lupus
- It is estimated that 1.5 million Americans, and at least five million people worldwide, have a form of lupus.
- Approximately 20 percent of people with lupus will have a parent or sibling who already has lupus or may develop lupus.
- Lupus is two to three times more prevalent among women of color — African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders — than among Caucasian women.
- Having lupus raises your risk of developing heart disease, osteoporosis and kidney disease.
- The cause of lupus is not known. More than one factor is likely to play a role, including genes, things in your environment (like sunlight, stress, or smoking), hormones, and other problems in the immune system.
- Lupus can be hard to diagnose. Lupus is often mistaken for other diseases and no single test can tell you if you have it. Your doctor will review your symptoms, family history, and do many blood tests to find out if you have lupus.
- There is no known cure for lupus, but there are treatments.
- Despite the symptoms of lupus and the potential side effects of treatment, people with lupus can maintain a high quality of life overall. One key to managing lupus is to understand the disease and its impact. Learning to recognize the warning signs of a flare can help the patient take steps to ward it off or reduce its intensity.
- Women with lupus can safely become pregnant. Lupus should be under control or in remission for six months before getting pregnant.
- Ninety percent of people with lupus are women. Eight of ten new cases of lupus develop among women of childbearing age; however, women of all ages as well as men and children develop the disease.
- Normally lupus develops slowly, with symptoms that come and go. Women with lupus are most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 45. But the disease can also happen in childhood or later in life.
- For some people, lupus is a mild disease. But for others, it may cause severe problems. Even if your lupus symptoms are mild, it is a serious disease that needs constant monitoring and treatment. It can harm your organs and put your life at risk if left untreated.
- A study reported in October 2008 found that the average annual direct health care cost of patients with lupus was $12,643.