LARGELY unheard-of disease affects 40,000 in Spain alone.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease and can be potentially fatal. Its origin is unknown but it is characterised by a multitude of symptoms, manifesting differently over the life of the patient.
Any part of the body can be affected by lupus as it has an array of clinical manifestations affecting the skin, joints, brain, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels and other internal organs.
Epidemiological studies suggest that 1 in 2,000 people have some form or another of systemic lupus.
It is estimated that around 40,000 people in Spain suffer from lupus. More than 90% of lupus sufferers are women and it is most common between the ages of 15 to 45.
Lupus causes the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. This results in symptoms such as inflammation, swelling, and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, blood, the heart, and lungs.
Under normal function, the immune system makes proteins called antibodies in order to protect and fight against antigens such as viruses and bacteria.
Lupus results from both genetic and environmental stimuli. Risk factors include exposure to sunlight, certain prescription medications, infection with Epstein-Barr virus, and exposure to certain chemicals. Environmental factors include extreme stress, exposure to ultraviolet light, smoking, some medications and antibiotics, infections and the Epstein-Barr virus (in children).
Although there is no cure, lupus and its symptoms can be controlled with medication. Treatments for Lupus include corticosteroids, immunosuppressive drugs and lifestyle changes.
The Spanish Federation of Lupus offer support and advice on their website www.felupus.org