Tuesday, May 10, 2016

May 10 is World Lupus Day

Hello Mommies!

I have been thinking on adding another section to this blog of mine which I believe is still part of what I have been doing professionally. For all those who don't know me yet, I am a Nurse by profession and a Clinical Instructor for almost 12 years. I have changed nursing careers, but still my fervor to teach is still there. With this, I decided to launch today the Health and Wellness category where I will be talking about health concerns that are relevant and this will also be a sort of an educational tool to all who will visit this site.

For this maiden post, I will start off by informing you all that May 10 is World Lupus Day.

This is from Nursing Mnemonics and you can see how lupus affects the body in the lungs, heart and kidneys.

What is Lupus?

It is a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks different parts of the body. The body's immune system cannot identify what foreign agents are attacking the body that it creates a wide array of signs and symptoms particularly in the lungs, heart, skin, and kidneys. This is a prolonged medical condition, thus the word chronic, which can last from 6 weeks or even longer.

The word lupus means 'wolf''. The medical condition was named after this because the butterfly rash on the face of the person resembles the bite marks of a wolf attack.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Lupus is mostly hidden from view and undefined, has a range of symptoms, strikes without warning, and has no known cause and no known cure. Its health effects can range from a skin rash to a heart attack. Lupus is debilitating and destructive and can be fatal. From our illustration above, allow me to translate the identifies clinical manifestation and some of its complications:

In the lungs:
  • Tachypnea - fast breathing
  • Pleural inflammation/Effusion - the protective lining of the pleural cavity (the one that encase the lungs) is inflamed and can sometimes lead to water entering this area or effusion.
In the Skin:
  • The person develops photosensitivity when outdoors. The person can develop erythematous rash (redness of the skin) whenever he/she is exposed directly to sunlight. 
  • The very distinct mark of lupus is the butterfly rash or malar rash on the face because its shape resembles the outstretched wings of a butterfly across the nose and cheeks. The rash can be mild or severe but is not usually painful.  It can be itchy if it is more like a rash than a blush and some patients even report a ‘hot’ feeling with more severe malar rashes. 
In the Heart:
  • Raynaud's phenomenon, commonly affecting women, is when fingers turn white or blue with exposure to cold or during stressful situations, caused by the constriction of small blood vessels in those areas. 
  • Pericarditis is the inflammation of the muscle of the heart.
In the Kidneys:
  • Lupus Nephritis it inflammation of the kidneys that is caused by Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). This inflammation can lead to kidney failure, but like most lupus symptoms the effect on the kidneys is quite variable and hard to predict. 
  • Proteinuria is increased protein (showing as blood --hematuria) in the urine, swelling of the feet and legs, and high blood pressure can be indicators that the kidneys may be affected.
Other signs and symptoms:

Perhaps the most earliest signs of lupus are unexplained fatigue and fever. There would also be constant headache and confusion, joint pain, sores in the mouth, and digestive disturbances.

Diagnosing Lupus

There is no specific test to tell if you have lupus or not. If you have some symptoms that you think you have lupus, talk to your doctor and he/she will be taking samples of your blood for a variety of tests.

Be honest to tell your doctor your family health history and your own health history as the disease is oftentimes linked to be familial or hereditary. If your doctor strongly suspects that you have lupus, you will be referred to a specialist (a rheumatologist for joint and muscle problems and dermatologist for skin problems) for further medical assessment and treatment plans.

Life with Lupus

Although there is no cure for lupus, living well should not hinder you from doing so. It means balancing your daily life activities with rest, and trying to avoid stress. I suggest that you do the following:
  • Listen to your body, but don't give up your goals and dreams. 
  • Learn to take a rest for a while if your body is wary enough and then pick up the pieces again and strive on.
  • Accept help from others, but do something proactive every day.
  • Question your doctors, but don't ignore their advice.
  • Follow instructions carefully when taking medications
  • Closely monitor your condition with your doctor.
I hope I have given you enough basic information on this one. What topic do you like me to write about next time? I'd love to hear from you.

DISCLAIMER: This post contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information above is not advice, and should not be treated as such. You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.  If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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