What is happening in research?
¨ Many doctors and scientists are investigating the cause and cure of lupus. At medical centres worldwide (including Canada), research has led to improved tests and techniques for diagnosis and better methods for predicting flares. These allow doctors to start treatment sooner, which improves chances for success.
As part of research, many centres collect and store patient information and statistics. The results of this data can help doctors and patients make better decisions about treatment of an increasingly wide range of symptoms. This, along with today's advances in technology, the greater awareness about lupus, and the promise of a cure, gives hope to all whose lives are touched by lupus.
Lupus: The disease with 1000 faces!
What is lupus?
¨ Lupus is a chronic disease with a variety of symptoms caused by inflammation in one or more parts of the body. It is estimated that it affects more than 50,000 Canadians.
Lupus is not contagious and is not related to AIDS or cancer. It belongs in the family of diseases that includes rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, juvenile diabetes, and scleroderma.
The most common type of lupus is SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus). It is a complex and baffling condition that can target any tissue or organ of the body, including skin, muscles, joints, blood and blood vessels, lungs, heart, kidneys, and the brain.
There are other types of lupus which mainly affect the skin. A few individuals develop drug-induced lupus as a response to some medications used to treat other conditions. These symptoms disappear when the person stops taking the medication.
Who gets lupus?
¨ Anyone can: women, men, children. Between the ages 15 and 45, eight times more women than men get lupus. In those under 15 and over 45, both sexes are affected equally.
What causes lupus?
¨ No one knows for sure. What we do know is that, in lupus, the immune system (the body's defense against viruses and bacteria) is unable to tell the difference between intruders and the body's own tissues. Trying to do its job, it attacks parts of the body, causing inflammation and creating the symptoms of lupus.
¨ Because it occurs most often in women of childbearing age, it seems evident that there is a link between lupus and some hormones, but how this works remains uncertain. It also appears that inherited factors may make certain people more likely to develop lupus, but these also are not clear yet.
¨ Until science fully understands how the immune system works, the specific cause of lupus remains unknown.
Four Forms of Lupus
¨ There are four different forms of lupus, and each affects the body differently.
¨ Drug-induced lupus: The most common form of lupus in older individuals...