Over 5 million people around the world are affected by this disease with 16,000 new cases each year. May is Lupus Awareness Month, and we talked to rheumatologist Dr. Mark Lloyd about the different aspect of this autoimmune disorder.
1) Lupus and its symptoms.
Dr. Lloyd says it is, "An autoimmune disorder where your immune system is making antibodies against its tissues." This often results in inflammation, which can affect major body systems from the brain to blood cells. Symptoms can be multiple and hard to pin down as they often overlap with other ailments and are different for everyone, but a facial rash (otherwise referred to as butterfly wings) is the most common. Other symptoms include arthritis, fever, hair loss, joint pain, skin lesions, to name a few.
2) Getting this disorder.
There is no known cause, but Dr. Lloyd says, "It is a genetic disorder, and doctors think something environmentally can trigger it." So it is more than likely someone has a "tendency towards lupus" and then they are triggered by something like an infection, a medication, or even sunlight.
3) Life expectancy with lupus.
This is an autoimmune disease that can end a person's life. One of the leading causes of death for people with lupus is kidney failure as the disorder causes kidney damage. Dr. Lloyd says, "Life expectancy is shorter, but with today's treatments, it has a much better prognosis." Overall, if a person with lupus can keep themselves as healthy as they can, they can live a normal and long life.
4) A treatment plan.
Dr. Lloyd says, "Different medications such as steroids, immuno-suppressants, monitored closely with office visits, lab work, a good relationship with your rheumatologist goes a long way in excellent medical care for this disease." As more is discovered about lupus, treatments only get better.
Lastly, Dr. Lloyd wants it to be known that lupus has been an over diagnosed disease, which can be frustrating for the patient as they would have to go through unnecessary and distressing treatment. But if a patient does receive an accurate lupus diagnosis, there is much better care in this day and age than ever previously.
Dr. Lloyd is a rheumatologist located in Gainesville. Click the link to find out more about SIMEDHealth Rheumatology and Dr. Lloyd.