Quick facts about lupus

Monday, January 21, 2019

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Lupus affects nine times more women than men, and more women of colour than white women.

• Women of childbearing age — 13 to 49 — are far more likely to be affected.

• Genetics also play a role. If you're a woman with no family history of lupus, your chances of getting lupus are about one in 400. If your parents or a sibling has lupus, your chances jump to one in 25.

African American and Latina women with no family history of lupus have about a one in 250 chance of developing the disease.

• Lupus symptoms can differ greatly from person to person. Some symptoms are common to other conditions, too, which can make diagnosis difficult.

• Lupus is a diseas of flares and remissions.

Lupus flare-ups can be mild, or they can be severe. At least 75 per cent of people with lupus have arthritis and skin rashes; half have kidney problems. Lupus patients are also more vulnerable to infection than most people.

• It is not possible for doctors to use one test to determine if you have lupus. Doctors must consider many different sources of information to make a diagnosis. Sometimes, it can take months — or even years — before your doctor has all the information needed to make a lupus diagnosis.

• Treatment depends on the type of flare-ups you have.

Mild swelling and joint pain may be treated with acetaminophen or a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug like naproxen, or ibuprofen.

Plaquenil, an anti-malarial drug, treats skin rashes, arthritis, and sometimes fatigue.

Rashes may be treated with topical steroid creams. And corticosteroids, like prednisone, and immunosuppressants treat serious kidney problems.

• Ninety-five per cent of lupus patients have a five-year survival rate today, compared to five per cent in the 1950s.

• Many people with lupus have a mild form.

• Proper medication can even help people with severe lupus control their flare-ups and live productive lives.

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