Get in the Loop – Raising Awareness for Lupus
That’s right; May is seen as time to come together and help raise national awareness for all the forms of lupus. This is a time to show support for the estimated 1.5 million people in the United States who are affected by this chronic autoimmune disease. With this new info-graphic, we hope to help raise awareness for lupus patients and their families this month. If you are in the Birmingham Alabama area, check out some of the Lupus Clinical Trials that Achieve Clinical is conducting.
Looking back, the first observance for lupus awareness happened back in 1977. The president at the time, Jimmy Carter, signed Public Law 95-72 declaring a week long national lupus observance. This first observance occurred in September, but over the years it was moved to October and lengthened. Then in 2009, the Lupus Foundation of America had the annual Lupus Awareness Month moved to May. The month of May held many more opportunities to promote lupus awareness, so the decision to make the final change was not too difficult. You can also check out the full story on the major Lupus Organizations in America.
Then of course there is World Lupus Day, which takes place on May 10th. This serves as an excellent opportunity for lupus organizations around the world to collaborate and raise awareness. Traditionally people will wear purple or sport a purple ribbon during the month to show support for lupus. The national symbol for lupus is the butterfly. This is representative of one of the more common symptoms of lupus, the butterfly rash, while also representing hope for lupus patients. There is another symbol that is widely used for lupus as well, and that would be the wolf. In Latin, the word “lupus” literally means “wolf”. Due to the Latin translation, the wolf has served as an effective symbol for lupus awareness.
What is Lupus?
Research has shown that a majority of Americans don’t know much about lupus, if anything at all. This is a debilitating disease which claims lives and remains unpredictable, so there is a lot of effort being put into spreading further awareness. Globally, it is estimated that 5 million people are affected by some form of lupus. Shockingly, research has shown that women have been diagnosed with lupus in 90% of all cases! A majority of these women get diagnosed between the ages of 15 to 45 years of age. For most cases of lupus, the doctor makes the diagnosis based on a number of physical symptoms and the results of lab tests. So, the American College of Rheumatology developed a list of criteria which could be used to help diagnose lupus.
Types of Lupus
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): This is the most common form of lupus making up for around 70% of all cases. SLE ranges in severity, but the severe cases of SLE are as bad as they get. This form of lupus can affect the skin, mouth, kidneys, brain, lungs, and heart. Common symptoms of this disease include fatigue, photosensitivity, swollen joints, mysterious fever, skin rashes, hair loss, and kidney issue.
Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (CLE): The word “cutaneous” actually means skin, and CLE tends to primarily affect the skin. This particular condition can cause inflammation and sores which will appear over the the face, ears, scalp, and other areas of the body.
Drug-induced Lupus Erythematosus: This condition is similar to SLE except for one major difference. This type of lupus is the result of a hypersensitive reaction to a medication. Research has shown that Isoniazid, hydralazine, and procainamide are some of the more common medications that have been known to cause drug-induced lupus.
Neonatal Lupus Erythematosus: This is a rare form of lupus which can occur in infants that are born to mothers with lupus. While in the womb, the infant is attacked by the mother’s antibodies. At birth, these infants show some of the symptoms of lupus. These symptoms eventually disappear completely, but some of these infants can develop a rare heart defect.
Available Treatments for Lupus
Currently, the treatments that will be prescribed to lupus patients based on the symptoms that they are experiencing. Unfortunately, there is still no cure for lupus. Patients hope to control their symptoms with medication so that they can live a better quality of life. The exact drug prescribed to the lupus patient may change during the course of treatment based on how the disease is reacting. The National Lupus Awareness Month info-graphic lists some of the treatments that are currently being used to treat lupus patients. It is very important that doctor and patient collaborate often to make sure that the treatment plan is working effectively. In some cases, other drugs are needed to treat other conditions like hypertension, which can be linked to lupus. There are some possible side effects related to taking these medications, so do not hesitate to inform your doctor if any should occur.
The Faces of Lupus
This chronic autoimmune disease has affected millions of lives, and there have been a few public figures to come forward with their diagnosis. Music icons like Nick Cannon and Michael Jackson were diagnosed with lupus. In fact, George H.W. Bush’s dog Millie may have become the most famous animal with the disease after her diagnosis. These public figures have embraced their disease, and now they work to raise awareness around the world. Be sure to check the full list available in the info-graphic.