It was not too long ago that diagnosis of lupus was considered life-threatening. After months of joint pain, fatigue and rash, the shock of this verdict was devastating. The good news is that lupus is now manageable. Lifestyle changes and intervention therapies have made living with lupus less of a struggle and, in many cases, lives have been extended.
Lupus ensues when the immune system loses its ability to differentiate between substances invading the body and its own cells and tissues. The upshot is that the body directs antibodies to its own self, causing tissue damage, inflammation and pain. Lupus is an inflammatory autoimmune condition that affects many parts of the body, including the skin, joints, kidneys, blood cells, heart, lungs and brain. The cause of lupus remains a mystery until today.
The common form of lupus among adults is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Lupus may be difficult to diagnose, especially if no overt signs or symptoms are presented.
Signs and symptoms of lupus are:
* A butterfly-shaped rash across the bridge of the nose and cheeks, or a scaly, disc-shaped rash that appears on the face, neck or chest.
Medications that can reduce complications of lupus include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anti-malarials (for their anti-inflammatory effects), corticosteroids to counter inflammation, and immunosuppressives to reduce the autoimmune response. Immunosuppressives are prescribed if multiple organs are affected, but most specially the kidneys.
Nearly all of the drugs listed above have side effects. For example, immunosuppressives may result in anemia and low white blood cells counts, increasing the risk of infection. Used over long term, immunosuppressives can also increase the risk of certain types of cancers.
Coping with lupus can be stressful, and relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga, and finding support groups may be helpful. There may be natural ways to manage inflammation as well, however. Thus, systemic enzymes can be used to manage inflammatory response within the body's physiological context. Systemic enzymes modulate the immune response by restoring the balance in favor of anti-inflammatory substances.
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