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What is lupus? — Lupus is a type of "autoimmune disease."
When it is working normally, the body's immune system kills germs and "bad" cells that could turn into cancer. When a person has an autoimmune disease, instead of killing only bad cells, the immune system starts to attack healthy cells. This is called an "autoimmune response." It can happen in certain parts of the body in people who get lupus. This is what causes symptoms.
What are the symptoms of lupus? — People with lupus can:
●Feel tired or weak
●Lose or gain weight
●Get a butterfly-shaped rash on their nose and cheeks, especially after being in the sun
●Lose some hair
●Get chest pain
●Have trouble breathing
●Have joint pain and stiffness
●Have swelling in the hands, feet, belly, or around the eyes
●Have urine that looks brown (tea-colored) or foamy
●Get sores in the mouth
●Get cold fingers or toes that turn pale or blue
Lupus can also make it hard to think clearly, and it can make people feel anxious and sad. That is partly because the disease attacks the brain, and partly because the disease is hard to deal with.
Can I do anything on my own to feel better? — Yes. It can help to eat a healthy diet, full of fruits and vegetables. It's also important to stay active, even if you do not feel well. If you rest too much, your muscles will get weak and you might feel even worse later. Also, any time a doctor or nurse gives you medicine, make sure they know you have lupus. Some medicines make lupus worse. It is important that you not take them.
What are the treatments for lupus? — There are medicines that can ease lupus symptoms, decrease the autoimmune response, or both. These medicines include:
●Steroids and related medicines, which partly "turn off" the immune system, and can help with many of the problems caused by lupus
Steroids can do a lot of good, because they control the disease. But they can also cause problems of their own. For instance, steroids can cause weight gain, make bones weak, or make diabetes worse (or even cause diabetes).
What if I want to get pregnant? — People with lupus are more likely than other people to have problems with pregnancy. But they can have healthy babies.
If you would like to get pregnant, speak with your doctor or nurse before you start trying. There are ways for you to lower the chances of having problems. For example, it is important that you wait until you have not had lupus symptoms for at least 6 months.
How will lupus affect my life? — You will have lupus for the rest of your life. It might be severe, or it might be mild. Either way, doctors and nurses today know a lot about how to handle the disease. You are likely to live a long time. And you might even find that your symptoms go away for long periods.
Patient education: Lupus and pregnancy (The Basics)
Patient education: Lupus and kidney disease (The Basics)
Patient education: Antinuclear antibodies (The Basics)
Patient education: Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) (The Basics)
Patient education: Discoid lupus (The Basics)
Patient education: Oral steroid medicines (The Basics)
Patient education: C-reactive protein test (The Basics)
Patient education: Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (The Basics)
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