Lupus awareness month comes to an end

Although lupus awareness for the month of May is coming to an end, lupus awareness overall is not. For those who missed the opportunity to get involved in spreading awareness this month ( lupus walks, wearing purple, etc.), the month of October gives us another shot. There will also be another opportunity to participate locally in a lupus walk in September (either at Lincoln Park or Grant Park). For more information, contact the Lupus Society of Illinois.

Lupus--systemic or discoid (skin), is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks its own tissues. The purpose of the immune system is to fight off infection but for a person with lupus, the immune system gets confused and does the opposite of healing. Major problems may occur such as internal and external organ damage if not treated in a timely manner.

Lupus is called "The Great Mimicker" because it comes across as having other disorders. For example, you may think you have simple arthritis when you may indeed have rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. Both instances comes from inflammation and while there is no cure, there are various pain management medications. One caveat: the kidneys for some reason are the first organs affected by lupus. Because of this, one has to take precautions when taking over the counter pain medications such as Tylenol and Advil. These have warnings of organ damage when used excessively.

Lupus affects everyone but predominately women of ethnic origin. Research is on-going on how lupus occurs. Genetics or some drugs may be a factor but in my opinion, stress is the root cause of autoimmune disorders. Before I was diagnosed with systemic lupus in 2004, in 1999 I suffered from extreme fatigue due to an excessive amount of stress. Being a single mom raising two boys with autism (they have different spectrum levels, I may add) was very hectic for me.

Currently, I'm having a flare up as my primary care doctor says that I'm suffering from RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and OA (osteoarthritis). Rheumatoid arthritis affects the small joints in the hands and feet. Osteoarthritis affects joints in the larger extremities such as the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. Thankfully, there are more treatment options for lupus now than ever before and when I see my new rheumatologist, he/she may recommend something different as it seems that my body has developed a tolerance for the medications I'm currently using.

There is no one way or quick fix to healing because everyone's case is different. The important thing, however, is getting treated properly once you're diagnosed. After that, the ball is in your court on how you choose to live your life with lupus. Lupus can be life threatening at times but manageable. Developing a positive mindset and getting involved with support groups are great ways to cope.

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Filed under: Lupus

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