Lupus is an Autoimmune disease and that means that the defence system of your body creates antibodies. These antibodies then attack the tissue of the body and that leads to inflammation.
There are two main types of Lupus known as Discoid Lupus and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
Who can suffer with Lupus?
Lupus is more common in women than it is in men, in fact, it is nine times more common. It is also more common in those who are below the age of 50. Generally, it is less severe in those over 50 and around 1 in 15 cases only affect those who are over 50. Often, it is severe in those who are of Afro-Caribbean origin while it is also common in women of Chinese origin. It is fairly uncommon for lupus to affect children and it is unusual to see it in Children younger than the age of five.
The Causes of Lupus
The immune system creates proteins that are known as antibodies and these fight infection. In instances where someone suffers from the disease, the body creates autoantibodies and these attack the body. There is no real explanation as to why this happens, although it is believed to be down to a combination of environmental, hormonal and genetic factors.
While it is not directly passed from the parent to the child, it can develop if a close relative suffers with it. However, if you do suffer from the disease, there is a 1% chance that your child can develop it later in life.
Complete blood count – This test will measure the number of red and white blood cells along with platelets. It also measures the amount of hemoglobin, which is a protein found in red blood cells. The results might determiner that you are suffering with anaemia, which is common with lupus while a low white blood cell or platelet count could also suggest that lupus is present.
Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate – This test will determine the rate at which red blood cells settle to the bottom of a tube in an hour. If the rate is faster than normal then it could suggest that a systemic disease is present, such as lupus. The rate at which sedimentation takes place is not specific for any one disease, however, if lupus is present then the rate could be elevated.
Kidney and Liver Assessment – Blood tests can determine the way in which your liver and kidneys are functioning. If lupus is present then it can affect these organs.
Urinalysis – A sample of urine is taken and that can show an increase in the protein level. It can also detect red blood cells in the urine which can occur if the kidneys have been affected by lupus.
Antinuclear Antibody (ANA) test – You immune system will produce antibodies and a positive test will suggest this. Most people who suffer with lupus will have a positive ANA test, many people who test positive do not have lupus and so, it could means that more specific antibody testing is required.