New Delhi: Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, joints and/or organs. Lupus occurs when the body's immune system attacks its own normal, healthy tissues.
Usually, the term 'lupus' is used to describe a severe form of a more severe form of the condition called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Although lupus is a complex disease, the condition remains to be poorly understood.
Lupus is not contagious, which means you can't catch the disease from someone or spread to others. It is not transmitted through sexual contact. The condition is not like or related to cancer as well.
Signs and symptoms of lupus
Signs and symptoms of lupus can vary depending on which body systems are affected by the disease. Most common symptoms include:
- Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
- Skin rashes -- a butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose
- Confusion and memory loss
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Pale or purple fingers or toes when exposed to cold or stress
Since lupus can range from mild to life-threatening, it should always be treated by a doctor. Seek medical help if you have an unexplained rash, ongoing fever, persisting joint pain or fatigue.
In order to create awareness about the disease and push the government to focus on the condition, like any other non-communicable diseases, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Tuesday sought inclusion of lupus in the Health Ministry's list of NCDs, news agency IANS reports.
Inclusion of lupus in the list could also intensify research on the disease, it said.
Why lupus should be listed with non-communicable diseases
According to the premiere referral hospital, though one per cent of the patients of every rheumatology out-patient department have lupus, people do not even know about the basic factors that trigger the disease, resulting in deformity and irreversible organ damage.
The state of ongoing inflammation in the body leads to premature atherosclerosis, hypertension, coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular accidents reduces lifespan.
"Our NCD list is very old and needs a review. There is an urgent need to add lupus in the list, so that government focuses on the disease increases and the programmes to raise awareness about it are launched across the country," said Uma Kumar, Head of Rheumatology Department at AIIMS, speaking to reporters here.
An estimated five million people worldwide have lupus. People of all races and ethnic groups can have lupus, but it is more often found in women.
The exact cause of lupus is not known, however, some factors that jointly contribute to occurrence of the disease are ultra violet rays, air pollution, genetic issues, biomarkers and environment, among others.
There is no cure for lupus, but with good medical care, patients can lead a full life.