Some people have complete and long-lasting remissions.
Who gets lupus?
Lupus tends to affect women
in their childbearing years. However, lupus can
occur in young children or in older people. The
number of women affected outnumber men by nine
to one. The disease is commoner in Orientals and
We don't know the cause
of lupus. Some people seem to inherit the tendency
to get a disease like lupus. Research suggests
that an unidentified virus may trigger the tendency
and bring on the disease. A few drugs taken for
conditions like high blood pressure or tuberculosis
can cause symptoms just like lupus but these symptoms
always disappear when the drug is stopped. Exposure
to sunlight seems to trigger lupus in some people.
the prospects of pulling this deal off.
Lupus can present in many
different ways. The onset is usually gradual,
with the development of vague feelings of disease
until some specific lupus symptoms develop. Common
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Easy bruising
- Aches & pains
- Hair loss Swollen glands
The following symptoms
and signs are much more suggestive of lupus:
- A rash over the cheeks
and bridge of the nose
- Rashes after exposure
to the sun or ultraviolet light
- Ulcers inside the mouth
- Arthritis of two or
more joints i.e, the joints hurt and are swollen
- Pleurisy – pain
in the chest on deep breathing
- Raynaud's – fingers
turning white and/or blue in the cold
Lupus is usually easy to
diagnose when an individual has many of the more
characteristic symptoms and signs, but is made
more difficult if only a few are present. Laboratory
tests are then usually conducted to help confirm
or reject the diagnosis, These tests may include
a blood count and urine analysis. More specific
laboratory tests look for antibodies, in particular
antibodies to the nuclei of cells (the ANA or
Anti-Nuclear Antibody test) and antibody to DNA.
Over 99 per cent of people with lupus have a positive
ANA test. However, only about 30 per cent of people
with a positive ANA test have lupus.
Lupus is an unpredictable
disease but in most cases it can be successfully
treated. Once an effective treatment program has
been started, it is important for the patient
to keep to it faithfully and to inform the doctor
of any change in symptoms so that the medications
can be modified.
Prednisolone is the
most commonly used drug. Steroids are powerful
drugs that suppress inflammation and are commonly
used in controlling lupus. It is important
for the patient to keep to the prescribed
dose. Flare-ups of disease can occur if the
dose is reduced too rapidly. NEVER
ALTER YOUR DOSE OF CORTICOSTEROIDS WITHOUT
FIRST DISCUSSING IT WITH YOUR DOCTOR, SINCE
STOPPING THEM OR CHANGING THE DOSE QUICKLY
CAN MAKE YOU VERY ILL.
Antimalarial drugs seem
to be effective in reducing inflammation and
controlling skin problems. These drugs increase
resistance to sun exposure.
Aspirin and Other
Aspirin and other anti-inflammatory
drugs such as Indocid, Clinoril, Brufen and
Naproxen may be the only medications the doctor
will prescribe. These drugs control pain and
are usually used in conjunction with corticosteroids
to control more severe disease. If you're
taking an immunosuppressive, regular blood
tests will be done because the drug can interfere
with the formation of blood cells.
Your doctor may prescribe
a cream containing a sunscreen to protect
against sun exposure. Corticosteroid containing
creams are used to control skin rashes.
Pregnancy may mean special
problems for the woman with lupus since the disease
affects people in their child-bearing years. The
majority of women have normal pregnancies, although
there is an increased risk of early miscarriage.
There may be worsening of symptoms after delivery.
It is important for the patient and doctor to
discuss and plan the best time for the patient
to have a child.
In a chronic disease like
lupus, social and emotional problems are common.
You may experience feelings of anger, fear and
depression. It is extremely helpful to be able
to talk about how you feel with someone close
to you or someone who has had similar problems.
Lupus Association (Singapore)
The Lupus Association (Singapore)
is a self-help group dedicated to provide support
for patients and their families. The group aims
to assist lupus patients by providing practical
support and by giving people the opportunity to
share experiences with others who have lupus.
The Lupus Association (Singapore) is committed
to research on the disease and in improving understanding
of the disease especially among people with lupus
and their families.