Saturday, May 5, 2012

May is Lupus Awareness Month

Lupus Awareness Month is observed during May to increase public understanding of this cruel and mysterious disease that ravages different part of the body. Here are this month's important fact about lupus.

May 1: Lupus is an unpredictable and misunderstood autoimmune disease that ravages different parts of the body.

May 2: In lupus, something goes wrong with the immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs. The result is the production of auto-antibodies that causes inflammation.

May 3: Ninety percent of the people who develop lupus are women. Men also can develop lupus and their disease can be more severe in some organs.

May 4: Lupus develops most often between ages 15 and 44. However, between 10 and 20 percent of cases develop during childhood and these cases can evolve more rapidly into serious health complications.

May 5: African Americans, Hispanics/Latinas, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans are diagnosed with lupus two or three times more frequently than Caucasians; however, lupus affects people of all races and ethnicities.

May 6: Factors that may trigger a lupus flare include infections, ultraviolet light, and stress.

May 7: Lupus can affect any organ system of the body, including the heart, kidneys, lungs, blood, joints, and skin.

May 8: Lupus sometimes only affects the skin and joints without affecting other organs. However, this form of lupus can be just as debilitating.

May 9: Lupus is not contagious and cannot be “given” to another person.

May 10: Because of a longer burden of disease and exposure to medications, children with pediatric lupus are more likely to experience long-term complications of lupus, such as arthrosclerosis and osteoporosis.

May 11: Many symptoms of lupus mimic those of other illnesses, and symptoms can come and go over time, which makes diagnosis more difficult. Consequently, lupus can take three to five years or more to diagnose.

May 12: There is no single blood test that can determine whether a person has lupus.

May 13: Lupus is primarily treated by a rheumatologist, a physician who specializes in conditions affecting the joints and muscles. Some people with lupus may need additional care from specialists, like a dermatologist for skin disease, a nephrologist for kidney disease, or a cardiologist for heart complications.

May 14: Successful treatment of lupus often requires a combination of medications.

May 15: The first drug developed specifically for lupus was approved in 2010, and nearly two-dozen companies are researching lupus to develop a full arsenal of treatments.

May 16: More than 90 percent of people with lupus will experience joint and/or muscle pain that can be disabling.

May 17: As many as 80 percent of people with lupus experience fatigue. For some, fatigue can be debilitating, even to the point of forcing them to stop working.

May 18: People with lupus are usually encouraged to engage in appropriate daily exercise in order to maintain muscle and bone strength. Care should be taken, however, to balance exercise with rest.

May 19: People with lupus should eat a nutritious, well-balanced, and varied diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and moderate amounts of fish and lean meats. Lifestyle adjustments should always include quitting smoking, as tobacco products can cause flares of lupus symptoms.

May 20: A significant number of people with lupus will experience some type of nervous system complication, ranging from mild confusion or memory loss to strokes and seizures.

May 21: Women with lupus are at increased risk for loss of bone mass (osteoporosis) and are nearly five times more likely to experience a fracture.

May 22: Lupus can be an expensive disease. The mean annual cost to provide healthcare for a person with lupus ranged from $12,000 to $62,000 depending on disease manifestation.

May 23: The malar, or “butterfly” rash on the face is present in about one-third of those with lupus. This flat, reddish rash across the bridge of the nose and cheeks, is often the only visible symptom of this form of lupus.

May 24: About 40 percent of people who were originally diagnosed with cutaneous lupus, which affects only the skin, will go on to develop lupus that can then affect any organ in the body.

May 25: Only 10 percent of people with lupus will have a close relative who has lupus or may develop lupus, and only five percent of children born to a mother with lupus will develop the disease.

May 26: As many as 40 percent of all people with lupus, and as many as two-thirds of all children with lupus, will develop kidney complications that require treatment.

May 27: Neonatal lupus is a rare condition that affects infants of women who have lupus. With proper testing, physicians can identify most at-risk mothers, and the infant can be successfully treated before or at birth.

May 28: Advancing technology and better understanding of the disease have improved pregnancy outcomes. Today, 80 percent of women with inactive lupus can have successful pregnancies.

May 29: With current methods of therapy, 80 to 90 percent of people with non-organ threatening lupus can look forward to a normal lifespan.

May 30: The first ever Congressional Lupus Caucus was established in July of 2012 and is co-chaired by Representatives Tom Rooney (FL), Jim Moran (VA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), and William Keating (MA). To this date, 32 representatives have joined the caucus.

May 31: Today people with lupus are leading healthier lives and living longer than at any time in history, thanks to researchers who continue to discover more about the underlying science of the immune system.
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