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Lupus is a disease in which your immune system attacks the tissues in your own body. Your immune system is made up of white blood cells that defend your body against foreign invaders. Normally when foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria get into your body, some of your white blood cells identify them as foreign because they contain substances called antigens.
This recognition causes some of your white blood cells to make chemical markers called antibodies. These antibodies attach to the antigens, marking the foreign invaders as targets for your immune system to destroy them.
In an autoimmune disease such as lupus, your white blood cells mistakenly make antibodies to mark some of your own body cells and circulating chemicals for destruction. When antibodies attach to your normal cells, your white blood cells begin to attack them as if they were foreign antigens.
Overtime this autoimmune response causes inflammation in the parts of your body wherever this attack is happening. Inflammation makes the blood vessels in the affected area expand and leak fluid, causing redness and swelling.
Symptoms of lupus happen as your immune system begins to attack different areas of your body. You may develop a butterfly shaped skin rash on your cheeks and nose. Small sores or ulcers may form inside your nose or mouth. You may develop arthritis in which your joints become inflamed and swollen. When your fingers are cold they may turn a blue or white color. This is called Raynaud's phenomenon.
You may have pain during deep breathing caused by pleurisy, a condition in which the outer lining of your lungs is inflamed. Your white blood cells may create antibodies that attach to bits of your DNA from worn-out cells. The attached pair called an immune complex can lodge in your kidneys and cause inflammation. This disorder is called Lupus Nephritis.
Flare-ups of any of your symptoms, even those not related to your skin may be caused by an unusual reaction to sunlight called photosensitivity. Other common symptoms of Lupus include
Lupus is sometimes called the great imitator because its many symptoms are found in other health problems. There is no cure for Lupus. However you may prevent or reduce flare ups by avoiding direct sunlight and wearing sunscreen outside. The sunscreen should have a sun protection factor of 55 or greater and block both ultraviolet A and B radiation.
To treat your symptoms, your doctor may recommend a combination of drugs to reduce inflammation such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antimalarial drugs. Doctors may also recommend drugs that suppress or prevent your immune system from attacking the tissues in your body such as corticosteroids.