What is Lupus?

With each passing day the technology advances have been growing by leaps and bounds, our cell phones are capable of doing anything and everything, we have smartphones, smart cars even smart houses. The advancement is not only limited to these, the health care industry is not left behind, it has advanced a lot in many ways too. As there are new technologies being developed everyday, so is the normal person getting more aware of the various health issues that our body may be prone to. One of the many health issues that has been gaining a bit of attention in the recent past is Lupus.

So what is lupus?

Lupus is a long-term autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. Symptoms include inflammation, swelling, and damage to the joints, skin, kidneys, blood, heart, and lungs. Lupus is not a contagious disease. A person cannot transmit it sexually or in any other way to another person. However, in rare cases, women with lupus may give birth to children who develop a form of lupus. This is called neonatal lupus. It is a systemic condition. This means it has an impact throughout the body. The symptoms can range from mild to severe. It can cause inflammation in the skin, joints, lungs, kidneys, blood, heart, or a combination of these. This condition typically goes through cycles. At times of remission, the person will have no symptoms. During a flare-up, the disease is active, and symptoms appear.

Lupus is an autoimmune condition, but the exact cause is unclear. The immune system protects the body and fights off antigens, such as viruses, bacteria, and germs. It does this by producing proteins called antibodies. White blood cells, or B lymphocytes, produce these antibodies. When a person has an autoimmune condition, such as lupus, the immune system cannot differentiate between unwanted substances, or antigens, and healthy tissue. As a result, the immune system directs antibodies against both the healthy tissue and the antigens. This causes swelling, pain and tissue damage. The most common type of autoantibody that develops in people with lupus is an antinuclear antibody (ANA). The ANA reacts with parts of the cell’s nucleus, the command center of the cell. These autoantibodies circulate in the blood, but some of the body’s cells have walls permeable enough to let some autoantibodies through. The autoantibodies can then attack the DNA in the nucleus of these cells. This is why lupus affects some organs and not others. Now that we know what lupus is, it is natural for our inquisitive mind to know the risk factors involved for this disease to occur. Let us find out more about these risk factors.

  • Hormones 
HORMONE CHEMICAL STRUCTURE

Hormones are chemical substances that the body produces. They control and regulate the activity of certain cells or organs. As 9 out of 10 occurrences of lupus affect females, researchers have looked at a possible link between estrogen and lupus. Both men and women produce estrogen, but women produce more. In a review published in 2016, scientists observed that estrogen can affect immune activity and induce lupus antibodies in mice that are susceptible to lupus. There is not enough evidence to confirm that estrogen causes lupus. If there is a link, estrogen-based treatment could regulate the severity of lupus. However, more research is necessary before doctors can offer it as a treatment.

Does Lupus affects only females?

Though systemic lupus erythromatosus is often thought of as a woman’s health issue, the truth is men get lupus too. While the prevalence of lupus in woman is great-nearly 90% of lupus patients are woman ages 15-45,men are also affected by lupus. Lupus in men are much severe.

Symptoms of lupus:

Muscle and Joint pain

Fever

Rashes: One common sign is butterfly rash across nose and cheeks

Chest pain

Hair loss

Sun or light sensitivity

Kidney problem

Oral sores

Blood clotting problem

Memory loss

Eye disease

  • Genetic Factors

Researchers have not proved that any specific genetic factor causes lupus, although it is more common in some families. Scientists have identified certain genes that may contribute to the development of lupus, but there is not enough evidence to prove that they cause the disease.

  • Environment 

Environmental agents — such as chemicals or viruses — may contribute to triggering lupus in people who are already genetically susceptible. Possible environmental triggers include:

Smoking: A rise in the number of cases in recent decades may be due to higher tobacco exposure.

Exposure to sunlight: Some suggest that this may be a trigger.

Medication: Around 10 percent of cases may be drug-related, according to Genetics Home Reference

Viral infections: These may trigger symptoms in people who are prone to SLE. 

As lupus is an autoimmune disease which attacks the tissues, it can adversely affect the other organs as well, such as: 

  • Kidneys: Inflammation of the kidneys (nephritis) can make it difficult for the body to remove waste products and other toxins effectively. Around 1 in 3 people with lupus will have kidney problems.
  • Lungs: Some people develop pleuritis, an inflammation of the lining of the chest cavity that causes chest pain, particularly with breathing. Pneumonia may develop.
  • Central nervous system: Lupus can sometimes affect the brain or central nervous system. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, depression, memory disturbances, vision problems, seizures, stroke, or changes in behavior.
  • Blood vessels: Vasculitis, or inflammation of the blood vessels, can occur. This can affect circulation.
  • Blood: Lupus can cause anemia, leukopenia (a decreased number of white blood cells) or thrombocytopenia (a decrease in the number of platelets in the blood, which assist in clotting).
  • Heart: If inflammation affects the heart, it can result in myocarditis and endocarditis. It can also affect the membrane that surrounds the heart, causing pericarditis. Chest pain or other symptoms may result. Endocarditis can damage the heart valves, causing the valve surface to thicken and develop. This can result in growths that can lead to heart murmurs.

As Lupus can affect both the Kidneys and Lungs together, it can lead to various other myriad of issues related to both, in order to keep our kidneys and lungs in prime condition we must practice yoga and breathing exercises. There is currently no cure for lupus, but people can manage their symptoms and flares with lifestyle changes and medication. Treatment aims to:

  1. prevent or manage flares
  2. reduce the risk of organ damage

In the past, people who had a diagnosis of lupus would not usually survive for more than 5 years. Now, however, treatment can significantly increase a person’s lifespan, according to the National Institutes of Health. Effective therapy also makes it possible to manage lupus, so that a person can live an active, healthy life. As scientists learn more about genetics, doctors hope that one day they will be able to identify lupus at an earlier stage. This will make it easier to prevent complications before they occur.

Published by Dr.Pratim Sengupta

Dr. Pratim Sengupta thinks of himself as conscious, living, soulful being with an inner urge to break the inertia of life. He feels that life is nothing but a material expression of the Supreme Almighty Consciousness. His conscious existence empowered him to see, to hear, to talk, to interact, to feel, to dream, to ask questions, and to seek solutions to every problem. In the flow of life, as he grew up, he understood that knowledge of life is the only way to understand the scientific basis of conscious existence. Hence Dr. Sengupta felt the urge to study the science of life – i.e. Medicine. After he completed his higher secondary education from the Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira in Belurmath, he joined the MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) course at RG Kar Medical College, Kolkata. The professional packaging of knowledge in terms of a time-bound, goal-oriented syllabus frustrated him a bit, but nevertheless ignited the urge within him to study further. He thus went on to his post-graduation (MD) in Medicine from IPGMER and SSKM Hospital, Kolkata. During his MD training, he got a glimpse of the vastness of knowledge, and the quest to learn precisely the facts of life narrowed down his area of interest to the functioning of the kidneys and the specialisation of Nephrology – a discipline that is complex, yet relatively new and still evolving in terms of complete understanding of renal physiology and pathology. So, Dr. Sengupta decided to study and train for the DM (Doctorate of Medicine) degree in Nephrology. Right from the start of his career, Dr. Sengupta was passionate about Research. During the MD programme he worked on Cirrhotic Cardiomyopathy, Autonomic Neuropathy of Lupus, and Insulin resistance in Diabetics. All these research studies were published in national journals. During his postdoctoral study in Nephrology, he worked on Hemodialysis efficiency, and suggested an angular placement of the Dialyser in order to increase efficiency. This innovative concept was accepted for presentation at the World Congress of Nephrology, Milan, in 2009, and also published in Hemodialysis International. Dr. Sengupta also worked on Plasmapheresis – a blood filtering technique by which toxic and pathogenic immunoglobulins can be removed from the body. He studied the role of Prethymectomy Plasmapheresis in Myasthenia Gravis patients, and his findings were published in the journal Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. The patient-empowered nutritional model for nutritional care of kidney patients is another interesting and innovative area in which Dr. Sengupta has worked for quite a long time. Dr.Pratim Sengupta won the Bharat Jyoti award for his excellency in the field of medicine. He is also the president of our non-governmental organization, The Kidney Care Society. His tireless contribution to provide quality living for his patients is worth mentioning. He introduced Mukti, blending ancient Indian yoga with modern medicine for well being of every patient. He has also introduced an unique online course "Art of Living with diabetes" which is a complete solution to diabetes management. He has authored many books, blogs, for the patients. Searching and researching for solutions to problems in the field of Nephrology remains the passion and dream of Dr. Pratim Sengupta, and he intends to persist on this journey as long as he is conscious. Meanwhile, even as he pursues his dreams, Dr. Sengupta diligently puts into practice all he has learned about Nephrology over the years, at the Belle Vue Clinic in Kolkata and ILS hospital,Dumdum where he is available for his patient

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