Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects around 1.5 million people in the United States. Even though so many people are living with the condition, experts say that 72 percent of adults aged 18 to 34 don’t know anything about the disease or haven’t even heard of it. May is a good month to remedy that lack of knowledge because it’s Lupus Awareness Month.
Basic Information About Lupus
- Lupus occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks tissues in the body. It causes inflammation that can affect different parts of the body, including:
- Blood cells.
- Lupus is normally diagnosed when a person is between the ages of 15 and 44. However, it can occur in people who are older.
There are two different types of lupus:
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE): This kind of lupus mostly affects areas of skin that are exposed to the sun. It usually doesn’t impact internal organs. Instead, it causes lesions on the skin that can leave circular scars.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): SLE is more serious than DLE. It can affect both the skin and internal organs. It may cause a butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks, which can scar if not treated.
Lupus Causes and Risk Factors
Experts believe that lupus is the result of a combination of environmental factors and genes. In other words, when someone who is genetically predisposed to lupus, environmental factors can be triggers for the development of the disease.
There are some things that make people more likely to develop lupus than others. Doctors call them risk factors. Risk factors for lupus are:
Sex: 90 percent of people who get lupus are women.
Age: Most people are diagnosed before the age of 44, but older adults can get lupus, too.
Race: People who are of Asian, African-American, or Native American descent get lupus two or three times as often as Caucasians.
The symptoms of lupus vary from person to person, making it difficult to diagnose sometimes. The symptoms can happen suddenly or take time to develop. They can also vary in severity. Sometimes symptoms are permanent, and sometimes they aren’t. Some of the symptoms of lupus include:
- A butterfly-shaped rash on the face.
- Joint problems.
- Skin lesions that get worse when exposed to the sun.
- Chest pain.
- Dry eyes.
- Bluish fingers and toes when they are cold.
If your aging relative has been diagnosed with lupus, an elderly care provider can help. An elderly care provider can remind the senior to take medications. They can also drive them to doctor appointments. Elderly care can also assist with symptom management. An elderly care provider can prepare a hot or cold pack to soothe joint symptoms and allow the older adult to rest while they handle household tasks, like cleaning and cooking.
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Both Dan and Yvonne had personal experiences with the needs and challenges of caring for aging parents. They saw the need for a high quality professionally run yet personalized service to deliver the type of experience that they had a hard time finding.
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