Lupus FAQs

Lupus FAQs

Is lupus a hereditary disease?

There are still many questions when it comes to exact causes of lupus. A combination of factors does appear to consistently cause the condition, although none on their own are conclusive enough to diagnose it.

A genetic predisposition is one of these factors, but no single gene or group of genes has been proven as a cause. It is merely agreed among researchers that it does play a role. This is because heredity has come up as a common point of interest in multiple cases. Lupus does appear to affect certain families. In some instances, one of two identical twins can be diagnosed with the illness and the other at higher risk of developing the disease at some stage in their lives.

How serious is lupus?

As with many medical conditions, lupus can be a mild or more severe illness. The milder the symptoms and problems of the illness, the easier it is to effectively manage and treat. In all cases, lupus is a condition that should be taken seriously (thereby making it a serious condition, even if mild) as it requires constant monitoring and treatment.

The risk factors of this condition and potential complications can cause extensive harm to your internal organs, and thus put your life in great danger if not treated by a medical professional.

Can lupus go away?

The level of uncertainty around this condition means that there is still an extensive amount of research to be done. There is currently no known cure for lupus. It is a chronic illness with inconsistent symptoms, which increase and decrease in severity.

Presently medical professionals can only best manage the symptoms of the condition, as well as other complications which arise as a result. The main goal is to achieve remission (where symptoms are not present). It is, however, highly unlikely that symptoms will ever disappear completely.

Is lupus cancer?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease. Cancer is a condition of malignant, abnormal tissues in the body which grow rapidly and spread. Cancer is a serious complication of lupus, but is not the same / related illness.

Woman experiencing pain in joints associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Is there a link between lupus and osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis?

Lupus, an autoimmune disease, can have a wide range of symptoms. Some of these symptoms affect the joints of the body, which become swollen and painful due to inflammation in the body.

Osteoporosis is characterised by bones which become less dense and thus, are more likely to fracture (break). Fractures can cause a significant amount of pain and disability.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition and tends to affect more than just the lining of the joints. It can also damage a wide variety of other systems in the body such as those of the eyes, skin, blood vessels, heart and lungs. Rheumatoid arthritis is also classified as an autoimmune disorder and eventually causes bone erosion and joint deformity.

There is a link between lupus and an increase in bone loss and fractures in those diagnosed with SLE (Systemic lupus erythematosus). Women with lupus are nearly 5 times more at risk of fractures if also suffering from osteoporosis.

Lupus sufferers are at risk of developing osteoporosis due to:

  • Medications: Some prescribed drugs for SLE treatment can trigger significant bone loss.
  • Pain and fatigue symptoms: This can result in inactivity which further increases a person’s risk for osteoporosis. Bone loss can also occur as a direct result of the illness.

Another complication of lupus is arthritis. Arthritis is not usually crippling but sufferers do experience pain and stiffness, along with (or without) swelling. As a condition, arthritis can be problematic on a temporary basis (a few days or weeks) or more severe or consistent.

Symptoms of pain and stiffness in both lupus and arthritis can often be confused due to their similar nature. This makes it difficult to diagnose as there are no definitive tests. Symptoms can also overlap. It is possible, although rare, to have lupus and RA.

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