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May is Lupus Awareness Month
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Lupus Awareness Month 2

According to information from the Lupus.Org website, the month of May has been designated as Lupus Awareness Month, in order to bring information and awareness to people around the world. The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 million Americans, and at least five million people worldwide have a form of lupus, and there are 16,000 new cases reported annually. Women of child-bearing age are the most likely to develop Lupus, but the disease can strike at any time between the ages of 15-44. Some people are diagnosed later then 44, so the desease is quite variable. While it typically affects women of every color, men may also be diagnosed with Lupus. Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor. With good medical care, most people with lupus can lead a full life.

WHAT IS LUPUS?

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skinjoints, and/or organs). "Chronic" means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years. In lupus, something goes wrong with the immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs ("foreign invaders," like the flu). Normally our immune systems produce proteins called "antibodies" which protect the body from these invaders. 

"Autoimmunity" means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s lupus diagramhealthy tissues ("auto" means "self"). As a result, it creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. 

These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.

Lupus is NOT:

  • Related to cancer, however, some drugs, such immunosuppressant drugs used in cancer treatment may also be used for Lupus patients.
  • It is not related to HIV or AIDS. In HIV the body's immune system in underactive; but in Lupus the immune system is overactive.
  • Lupus cannot be spread, and is not contagious, even during sexual activity.
  • Symptoms range widely, as do the the four types of the disease.

WHAT ARE THE FOUR TYPES OF LUPUS?

There are four types of Lupus, which impact different areas of the human body. Those types are:

1. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus - Inflammation may cause damage the kidneys, the nervous system and brain, the brain's blood vessels, or may cause coronary artery disease; it may cause damage to the organs, memory problems, headaches, behavioral changes, or even a heart attack.

2. Cutaneous Lupus Erthematosus - This form of the disease affects the skin, and may cause a scaly rash, the typical butterfly rash over the cheeks and nose, hair loss, changes in skin pigment, and sun sensitivity.

3. Drug-induced Lupus Erythmetosus - This form is a lupus-like disease caused by certain prescription drugs. The symptoms of drug-induced lupus are similar to those of systemic lupus, but it rarely affects major organs.

4. Neonatal Lupus - A rare condition that affects infants of women who have lupus, and is caused by antibodies from the mother acting upon the infant in the womb. At birth, the infant may have a skin rash, liver problems, or low blood cell counts but these symptoms disappear completely after several months with no lasting effects. 

WHAT IS THE LONG-TERM PROGNOSIS?

The Lupus.org website states, "The prognosis of lupus is better today than ever before. With close follow-up and treatment, 80-90% of people with lupus can expect to live a normal life span.

"It is true that medical science has not yet developed a method for curing lupus, and some people do die from the disease. However, for the majority of people living with the disease today, it will not be fatal.

"Lupus varies in intensity and degree. Some people have a mild case, others moderate and some severe, which tends to be more difficult to treat and control. For people who have a severe flare-up, there is a greater chance that their lupus may be life-threatening."

WHAT CAN WE DO TO BRING MORE AWARENESS?

lupus graphic Fotor

Most people consider wearing their pj's all day as a luxury, but for Lupus patients it is all too often their clothing of choice due to the symptoms of the diease. PJ DAY is a way to honor and support those with the disease, while raising funds for research. Click on the "Have a PJ Day" link above for more information. 

  • 2. CELEBRATE WORLD LUPUS DAY ON MAY 10th. 

Lupus is world health problem that affects people of all nationalities, races, ethnicities, genders and ages. Lupus can affect any part of the body in any way at any time, often with unpredictable and life-changing results. While Lupus knows no boundaries, knowing all you can about Lupus can help control its impact. It is sponsored by the World Lupus Federation, a coalition of lupus patient organizations from around the world, united to improve the quality of life for people affected by lupus. Through coordinated efforts of its global affiliates, the World Lupus Federation works to create greater awareness and understanding of lupus, provide education and services to people living with the disease, and advocate on their behalf. Learn more at worldlupusfederation.org.

  • 3. WEAR PURPLE ON MAY 19TH.

Tell people about Lupus, and give them information about where to donate. Or change your profile picture on Facebook or Twitter to show your Purple Pride; or share your story and use the hashtag #PutOnPurple. You might also share your photos and tag the Lupus Foundation of America in Put on Purple Day photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and use the hashtag #POP.

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