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The Impact of Lupus - Essay Example

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Lupus or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is one of the most baffling diseases in modern medical science. Its origin is unknown, diagnosis is exceedingly difficult and there is no fixed cure for it. However, there is little doubt as to the impact it has on the physiological and psychological well - being of afflicted individuals.
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Download file to see previous pages As Petri puts it, "Instead of fighting infection, the immune system attacks 'self/ the person's normal tissues" (qtd. in Meadows 29). An examination of the causes, symptoms and treatment of lupus helps one to better understand the physiological impact the disease has, while a look at families coping with lupus and certain other symptoms illuminate the psychological aspects.
Researchers have attempted to combat lupus by pinning down its origin or causal factors but thus far they have been largely unsuccessful. There are many factors that appear to be closely associated with lupus, and a combination of these factors may be responsible for its origin. Experts believe that it develops from complicated genetic and environmental factors. The fact that it is mainly the women who contract this disease and that it is more prevalent in certain races (Asians, Hispanics, and African - Americans) point to genetic determinants. Moreover there is some evidence that it runs in families. Environmental factors, such as prolonged exposure to sunlight are believed to trigger dormant symptoms. There have also been reported cases of drug - induced lupus, where drugs like hydralazine, procainamide, sulphasalazine, minocycline, may aggravate symptoms or cause similar symptoms in otherwise healthy individuals (Hughes 100).
Lupus is a complex illness that may focus its atta...
The range of severity also varies. Severe forms of the disease are easier to identify than milder forms. Because of the disconcerting array of symptoms, that may not exclusively suggest lupus, physicians are more likely to make the diagnosis when the disease is well advanced. This results in an unfavorable prognosis for the patient. Skin rashes, weakness, and general fatigue, muscular pain, sudden loss of hair, ulcers, and inflammation of membranes surrounding internal organs are believed to be the most common symptoms. Patients may also show a history of miscarriages and migraine attacks. Lahita and Phillips describe Raynaud's phenomenon as a characteristic syndrome, where "the toes and the fingers turn red, white, and blue because spasms in their small arteries stop the blood flow" (81). Another reportedly common symptom is the malar rash, which spreads across the cheek in the shape of a butterfly. Stress, depression, and psychosis have also been reported as likely psychological symptoms.
Treatment of Lupus
Since there is no cure for lupus, treatment focuses on containing or controlling the illness. The symptoms are treated and with time it is hoped that the ill effects will recede never to come back.
As the symptoms are so varied, treatment programs are devised in keeping with the particular
needs of the individual. Appropriate medications as well as lifestyle changes are advocated. Medications are the preferred mode of treatment for severe cases. The drugs used in the treatment program include, Non - steroidal anti - inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), Antimalarials, Steroids, and Immunosuppressives (Hughes 35). The use of these drugs causes side - effects, which in some cases are worse than the disease itself and endanger the long - term health of the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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