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Understanding Lupus

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system (sistem pertahanan tubuh) becomes hyperactive and attacks normal and healthy tissue.

LUPUS IN MALAYSIA

According to rheumatologists, a study conducted in 1990 showed that there were 43 systemic lupus erythematosus patients (SLE) for every 100,000 Malaysians.

It is now estimated that there are over 12,000 SLE cases in the country.

CAUSE OF LUPUS

Normally, the immune system makes proteins called antibodies in order to protect and fight against antigens such as viruses and bacteria.

Lupus causes the immune system unable to differentiate between antigens (a substance capable of inducing a specific immune response) and healthy tissue.

This leads the immune system to direct antibodies against the healthy tissue – not just antigens – causing swelling, pain, and tissue damage.

Medical News Today explains, any part of the body can be affected by lupus as it has a variety of signs affecting the skin, joints (sendi), brain, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels and other internal organs (organ dalaman).

TYPES OF LUPUS

Several different kinds of lupus have been identified, but the type that we refer to simply as lupus is known as systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE. Other types include discoid (cutaneous), drug-induced, and neonatal.

In discoid lupus the disease is limited to the skin.

It is characterized by a rash that appears on the face, neck, and scalp, and it does not affect internal organs.

Less than 10% of patients with discoid lupus develops other forms of the disease, but there is no way to predict or prevent the path of the disease.

SLE is more severe than discoid lupus because it can affect any of the body’s organs or organ systems.

Some people may present inflammation or other problems with only skin and joints, while other SLE sufferers will see joints, lungs, kidneys, blood, and/or the heart affected.

This type of lupus is also often characterized by periods of flare (when the disease is active) and periods of remission (when the disease is dormant).

Drug-induced lupus (lupus disebabkan ubat-ubatan) is caused by a reaction with certain prescription drugs and causes symptoms very similar to SLE.

The drugs most commonly associated with this form of lupus are a hypertension medication called hydralazine and a heart arrhythmia medication called procainamide, but there are some 400 other drugs that can also cause the condition.

Drug-induced lupus is known to subside (reda) after the patient stops taking the triggering medication.

A rare condition, neonatal lupus occurs when a mother passes autoantibodies to a fetus (janin).

The unborn and newborn child can have skin rashes and other complications with the heart and blood.

SYMPTOMS OF LUPUS

No two cases of lupus are exactly alike.

Signs and symptoms may come on suddenly or develop slowly, may be mild or severe, and may be temporary or permanent.

The signs and symptoms of lupus that you experience will depend on which body systems are affected by the disease. The most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Fatigue (keletihan yang teramat)
  • Fever
  • Joint pain, stiffness and swelling (sakit, sengal-sengal dan bengkak pada sendi)
  • Butterfly-shaped rash (ruam berbentuk rama-rama) on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose or rashes elsewhere on the body
  • Skin lesions (melecet pada muka) that appear or worsen with sun exposure (photosensitivity)
  • Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
  • Shortness of breath (sesak nafas)
  • Chest pain (sakit dada)
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches, confusion and memory loss

TRIGGERS (PENCETUS)

It seems that people with an inherited tendency (kecenderungan untuk mewarisi) for lupus may develop the disease when they come into contact (berhubung) with something in the environment that can trigger lupus.

The cause of lupus in most cases, however, is unknown. Some potential triggers include:

  • Sunlight. Exposure to the sun may bring on lupus skin lesions or trigger an internal response in vulnerable individuals.

  • Infections. Having an infection can initiate lupus or cause a relapse in some people.
  • Medications. Lupus can be triggered by certain types of blood pressure medications, anti-seizure medications and antibiotics.

People who have drug-induced lupus usually get better when they stop taking the medication. Rarely, symptoms may continue even after the drug is stopped.

TREATMENT FOR LUPUS

According to Web MD, treatment for lupus may include:

  • Corticosteroid cream for rashes (ruam).
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for mild joint or muscle pain (sengal-sengal pada otot) and fever.
  • Antimalarial medicines to treat fatigue, joint pain, and skin rashes.
  • Corticosteroid pills if other medicines aren’t controlling the symptoms.

The doctor may also recommend other medicines that slow down the immune system (immunosuppressants).

LIVING WITH LUPUS

Good self-care is essential to managing lupus.

A healthy lifestyle may reduce how often individuals have flares and how severe they are.

It can improve your quality of life. Good self-care also helps decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Self-care includes getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet.

CELEBRITIES WITH LUPUS

Selena Gomez is one of many celebrities that has been diagnosed with lupus.

 In 2015, Gomez  mentioned she was receiving chemotherapy after being diagnosed with lupus.

Concerns about her health were first raised in 2013, when she cancelled a tour of Asia and Australia.

In 2017, she even received a kidney transplant.

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