Butterflies for Lupus

Butterflies for Lupus

Extreme fatigue? Painful or swollen joints? Light rash across the nose and cheeks?
I have been feeling and seeing these various symptoms for weeks.
I should make an appointment to see the doctor tomorrow or the next day…
No, maybe I’ll just wait for these symptoms to go away.

One week has turned to two and two weeks into four.
The discomfort is unbearable and I can’t take it anymore.
This makeup doesn’t cover my rash well and some days I get a headache…
But let me just take some aspirin and get some rest; I should feel better when I wake.

I still don’t feel well so let me look up a possible reason.
The flu? Allergies? This can’t all be due to the season!
All of these websites say I may have cancer….
Now, I definitely need to go and see the doctor for an answer.

These are just a few of the many symptoms that fall into the category of a chronic disease or condition, but one disease in particular that has been gaining more attention in the media and in research is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), simply known as lupus.

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that affects the immune system by causing it to classify the body’s healthy tissues as foreign (like how our immune system would classify viruses) and then set forth to attack/destroy them. Lupus is not like or related to cancer, HIV/AIDS, and it is not contagious. There are different forms of lupus, not just SLE, but all are distinctly characterized by a rash across the face and nose in a shape similar to butterfly wings. There is also no known cause or cure for lupus but effective treatment and ongoing research is available.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, at least 1.5 million people in the United States have lupus and women of color are primarily affected, although people of all races and genders can develop the disease. It is suspected that millions more are living with a form of lupus worldwide, but because the symptoms of this disease relate to many other diseases and conditions, it is not quickly diagnosed or people tend to ignore their symptoms and attempt to treat themselves. Also, millions of Americans lack access to primary medical care, so a proper diagnosis and information from a medical professional about their condition is unavailable.

What can you do?

Get checked out! Utilize one of your best resources—your healthcare access! Visit your local doctor’s office or health clinic to receive primary care, even if you do not feel ill. If you see or feel anything that does not appear normal with your body, do not ignore it. Medical professionals and support groups are available to provide you with the help you need to prevent or delay future complications.

Consult with your practitioner! Every person is different when it comes to how their body deals with a disease or condition. Although information is available on the web, medical professionals are here to provide you with the care, appropriate information and support you need to maintain your health status and refer you to appropriate specialists if necessary.

Spread the word! May is Lupus Awareness Month but one of the best ways to treat any illness all year round is to properly inform those around you of its complications. Bring awareness to the issue and gain support.