The Lupus Alliance answers some questions about lupus

March 03, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
The Lupus Alliance has released this fact sheet to alleviate questions and concerns regarding lupus, due to recent news stories on Anna Nicole and Idol contestant Leslie Hunt.

•Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease, which causes inflammation of various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood and kidneys. The Immune system normally protects the body against viruses, bacteria and other foreign materials. In an autoimmune disease like lupus, the immune system loses its ability to tell the difference between foreign substances and its own cells and tissues. The immune system then makes antibodies directed against “self.”

•Lupus is NOT infectious; it is NOT rare or cancerous.

•Lupus is more prevalent than sickle cell anemia, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis combined. Research data shows that between 1.5 and 2 million people have been diagnosed with lupus.

•Although the cause of lupus is unknown, scientists suspect that individuals are genetically predisposed to lupus, and know that environmental factors such as infections, antibodies, ultraviolet light, extreme stress and certain drugs play a critical role in triggering lupus.

•Lupus affects 1 out of every 185 Americans and strikes adult women 10-15 times more frequently than adult men. Lupus is more prevalent in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asians.

•Lupus can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms come and go and mimic many other illnesses. Some symptoms of lupus can be transient joint and muscle pain, persistent weakness, fatigue, a rash caused by or made worse by sunlight, memory loss, anemia, low-grade fevers, seizures, hair loss, appetite loss, and sores in the nose or mouth.

•Since there is no single test to diagnose lupus, doctors take several factors into consideration. If you suspect you have lupus, visit a rheumatologist and be sure to have your complete medical, and family history with you, as well as a diary of symptoms you have experienced. This will assist the physician in diagnosing you correctly.
•Although lupus ranges from mild to life threatening the majority of cases can be controlled by proper treatment, that includes the use of the steroid Prednisone, the anti-malarial drug Plaquenil, the Immunosuppressant CellCept, the chemotherapy drug Cytoxan, and various other medications.

•Not every case of lupus is the same, some people go through what is called a “flare” (which means a time of increased disease activity) and then will go into a period of remission (where disease activity is decreased and symptoms may not appear), while others are always in a “flare” and require medication on a daily, weekly, yearly basis.

•Disease activity can range from the mild; rashes, headaches, easy bruising, and fevers, to the severe; kidney, lung, heart and brain involvement.

•There has not been a new medication approved for by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration specifically for lupus in over 40 years. Most of the medications used to treat lupus, are not even drugs made specifically for the disease.

•Recently however, there are more than 20 pharmaceutical companies interested in developing therapies and medications for lupus, some of which are already prepared for the clinical trial phase, while others are just beginning.

The Lupus Alliance of America LI/Q Affiliate strives to empower the public by arming them with the facts about lupus and spreading awareness about this devastating disease. For that reason, when lupus is mentioned in media stories such as the Anna Nicole Smith case, there is always the chance of misinformation being spread, especially on the internet. The Alliance warns the public to be wary of some websites claiming to have a cure for lupus; as there is no known cure at this time. To be sure of anything you read on the internet please be sure to check the facts with sites you can trust, and sites that can be verified by the better business bureau, or Non-profit watch dog companies such as Guidestar.

For further questions, comments, or if you have lupus or know someone who does, please call The Lupus Alliance of America LI/Q Affiliate at 516-783-3370, or e-mail us at: Up-to-date information on lupus as well as our services for those with lupus and their families including; professionally led support groups, educational symposiums, resource library, outreach program, counseling services, financial assistance programs, kids program, and more is always available on our website at