What is it?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means your body literally attacks itself. It can attack any organ in the body. In a person with lupus, the body’s immune system cannot distinguish the body’s normal tissue from an antagonist or abnormal cell. Since a normally functioning immune system is designed to attack disease with antibodies produced by the body, in the case of lupus; the body goes haywire and produces a large number of antibodies that cannot reconcile normal from abnormal cells. So, it attacks itself. Since the disease is non specific on what it will attack, it has a very high range of things it will attack. This mean it can attack the heart, kidneys, lungs, brain or various types of blood cells and so forth.
In each case of SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus,) or in each person with SLE, this disease process can be very different. Example, in one person lupus can attack the lungs cause various respiratory changes in the body. In another person lupus can attack one or more components of the blood, causing various disorders related to the blood component it attacks. An example would be white blood cells which are the fighters that kill bacteria in the body. When lupus causes too many WBC‘s (white blood cells) to be killed, the body becomes helpless against infections and can succumb to one or more bacterial, fungal or virus infections at once.
If the lupus causes too many platelets to be killed, bleeding disorders occur. (Platelets are a component in the blood that helps your blood clot and stops the bleeding after an accident or injury.) In the case of lupus, since there usually has been no accident or injury ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenia) can occur. This is when the body starts to bleed from the nose, gums, urine, stool and petechiae form all over the body. Patechiae are tiny bruises caused by blood migrating to the skin as it would in blunt trauma, except instead of one large bruise in one spot, there are many tiny, pin point bruises covering almost the entire body.
If the lupus attacks the brain, different types of seizures can result. If lupus attacks the kidneys, it can result in kidney failure. In severe cases, dialysis or an kidney transplant may be needed.
Overall, lupus is a complicated and unpredictable disease. It usually affects young women in their early twenty’s, however, there have been cases of lupus found in men as well. There can be periods of onset followed by times in which the disease is not active. It is literally like a sleeping giant. When asleep, there are no signs of the disease; or signs are only minor. When awake, it can be deadly.
Here is a PDF you can download (provided by Google)
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