8 most common stereotypes about lupus!
Published 10 May 2022 • By Berthe Nkok
Today is World Lupus Day, and on this occasion we decided to talk about this still unknown and presumptive disease.
People suffering with lupus cannot discuss their condition freely because it is still a taboo.
What are the most common stereotypes and preconceived ideas about lupus?
We explain it all in our article!
What is lupus ?
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic autoimmune disease, defined as systemic because it affects several organs. It causes different clinical manifestations in different people.
The term lupus refers to a characteristic symptom of the disease: a rash on the face, which takes the form of a mask. The disease can also affect other parts of the body: joints, kidneys, heart membrane (pericardium), nervous system and lungs (pleura), blood, etc.
In the UK, about 50,000 people currently have lupus, or approximately 1 in 1000 people. Women are affected much more than men (9 out of 10 cases of lupus are diagnosed in women), particularly young women of 15 to 40 years old. But the disease can also affect children, even newborns, and people over 50.
The symptoms of lupus
The symptoms vary from person to person and may change during the course of the disease, which usually progresses by periods of flare-up interspersed with periods of remission.
Skin manifestations, painful or swollen joints (hands, wrists, feet, etc.), general symptoms (fever, severe fatigue, etc.) and abnormal blood test results (hemoglobin, leukopenia, or low white blood cell count, thrombocytopenia, or low blood platelet count) are the most common signs of the disease (more than 80% of cases).
In less than 50% of cases, general deterioration and/or signs of damage to other organs (lungs, heart, blood vessels, nerves, etc.) are also present.
What are the most common stereotypes about lupus?
Lupus is a skin condition
Lupus is not just a skin disease. It is a chronic autoimmune disease. Indeed, only cutaneous forms of lupus affect the skin. But there is another form of lupus called systemic lupus, which can affect multiple organs, such as kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, but also skin and blood vessels.
Lupus is not a genetic condition
Lupus is a genetic disease that in some cases can be inherited. But the disease can actually skip generations, this is why it is important to know your family medical history. If lupus is suspected, doctors will always start by asking about the patient's medical history. Finally, patients whose families already have one or more members with an autoimmune disease are more likely to develop lupus.
Lupus is not a serious disease
Lupus is a serious disease and so far there is no cure. When lupus affects the skin and/or joints, it is not life threatening. However, discoid lupus, which often affects the face, can leave scars and cause significant psychological damage.
The difficulty with this disease is that there is no way of knowing which organ will be affected during an attack. On the other hand, if treatment is administered strictly according to the rules, if the patient follows a strict and balanced diet, and has no exposure to the sun, he or she can learn to live with the disease and control it better. However, it is the responsibility of each patient and, unfortunately, those who are not properly treated can die from the disease.
Lupus is a well-known disease
Lupus is still a taboo today. Many people are embarrassed to talk about it, for fear of not being understood, not being able to start a family, or to work like others do. But we must talk about it, because the more we communicate about the disease, the better we understand it. It is through conversation that such taboos can be broken.
You can't have children if you have lupus
Lupus does not have a negative impact on fertility, if the disease is stabilised. However, pregnancy must be planned and prepared for, as patients must stop taking certain medications and be closely monitored by doctors. However, for some women with very advanced stage of the disease, having a baby can be risky.
Lupus only affects women
Although lupus affects more women, men and children are not immune. In addition, the disease is usually much more severe in men than in women.
Lupus only affects black people
Lupus is more common in certain ethnic groups such as African Americans, West Indians, Native Americans and Asians, but it does not spare the Caucasian population. In all cases, women of childbearing age (between 15 and 40) are particularly affected. Lupus affects about nine times more women than men in this age group.
Pregnancy cannot cause lupus
Although the causes of lupus are still unknown, certain factors, such as pregnancy or childbirth, may provoke the onset of the disease. Stress, overwork and exposure to the sun are also considered as possible causes of the disease.
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