What is Lupus?: The Plain English Guide
What is SLE?
Lupus is synonymous with what is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).
It's an autoimmune disease that can affect multiple systems of the body that can be sometimes life-threatening. And affects an estimated 5 million people worldwide.
SLE can involve the skin, joints, internal organs, and the nervous system.
Similar to other autoimmune diseases, Lupus occurs when your body's efforts to defend itself from something potentially harmful such as an allergen, a toxin, an infection, or even a food, but gets confused and fail to differentiate friend (your own cells) from foe (pathogens) and begin self destructing.
Your immune system's main role is to keep you safe from foreign invaders that can harm you. If your immune system is threatened , it will produce antibodies as a defense mechanism to ward of potential invaders.
What are Antibodies?
An antibody, also known as an immunoglobulin, is a large, Y-shaped protein produced by plasma cells immune system uses to neutralize pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.
In lupus (SLE) and all autoimmune disease, this process is broken.
The process of correctly identifying friend from foe within our body is compromised. Mistaking your own tissues for foreign substances, your body turns these antibodies against itself, destroying your organs. This war within your body causes inflammation which is the culprit to your symptoms; pain, foggy brain, fatigue, and arthritis, etc.
This systemic inflammation is what causes the problems in Lupus and a host of other Autoimmune conditions. This is why it's not uncommon for a patient to have multiple autoimmune conditions.
What is Lupus?
Signs and Symptoms of Lupus
Signs and Symptoms of lupus range from mild to severe, even life-threatening. Lupus is Nicknamed the Great Imitator because lupus mimics other diseases due to its involvement of multiple organs and the symptoms can be temperamental, which makes the diagnosis process difficult.
Lupus symptoms can mimic other disease
The symptoms are not specific to Lupus and it can vary greatly in severity. If your symptoms are minor, it's a great opportunity to work on creating health to reverse your condition.
How is lupus diagnosed?
Once you understand the answer to "What is Lupus?", the next question is often "How is it diagnosed?"
Lupus is not easily diagnosed because it mimics other illnesses. Generally, a physician will review your medical history and your family history, and look for signs of systemic inflammation. There is no one test for lupus–generally, many different criteria will need to come together, and it can take years to reach a diagnosis.
Unfortunately, the exact cause of Lupus is unknown. Researchers speculate there is a genetic predisposition and Lupus then can be triggered by various viruses, sunlight, and toxic burden.