Far too often, when I tell someone that I have lupus, the response I get back is, “huh? Isn’t this what Selena Gomez has?” My response is a swift “yep,” and I try to answer all of their burning questions about this.
Perhaps you came here to learn more about lupus because you’ve got an inkling that you have this autoimmune disease. Or you’re newly diagnosed. Perhaps you’ve got a loved one who has lupus. Welcome one and all.
Come along my new friend. Let’s sit down across a table over a steamy cup of joe (I’ll have some green tea thank you) and we can chat about this unpredictable little shit called lupus.
What is this lupus thing?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means your immune system goes from protecting you from illnesses, bugs, and viruses to doing a 180-degree jump turn to attacking your healthy tissues. This sets off a whole whoop-ass can of problems that are centered around inflammation. In healthy amounts, inflammation is good. It protects your body, repairs injuries, and mops up debris. Think of inflammation as helping you when an ankle was sprained or when fighting off the flu.
But when inflammation is chronic and out of whack, like in lupus, it switches from being helpful to a real shit show when attacking the entire body. The long-term effects of inflammation can damage healthy cells, tissues, and organs. Ultimately, this can lead to the development of potentially life-threatening illnesses, like cancer, as the body is exhausted from fighting itself and has no energy left when big, bad diseases move in.
Lupus has been called one of the cruelest, most mysterious diseases on earth
Other truths include:
- Lupus is unpredictable in how it ravages the body.
- It’s biased toward women and certain races.
- Still greatly misunderstood by the general population.
- An invisible disease where the majority suffer in silence.
- More pervasive and more severe than most people know.
Lupus is a chronic disease which means it will be hanging out with you for most of your life until a cure is found. Don’t hold your breath on the cure part because there isn’t one on the horizon just yet.
Let me share some statistics on lupus so that you can see the impact this autoimmune disease is making on the world, our country, and our people.
Globally, roughly 5 million people are diagnosed with lupus, although these numbers are significantly underreported in many, many parts of the world. According to a 2022 report, the United Arab Emirates, Barbados, Cuba, and Brazil account for the highest concentration of lupus. While not the highest, we have 1.5 million people who have lupus in America.
Gender plays a significant role in the development of lupus with females making up 90 percent of all cases. It typically attacks women of childbearing ages from 15 to 44 years old. Wonder why you ask? Blame it on that estrogen.
When it comes to race, lupus certainly does not play fair! It is two to three times more common in Asian, African American, Hispanic/Latina, Native American, Alaska Native, and other Pacific Island women.
Women from racial and ethnic minority groups tend to suffer worse health effects from lupus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research, they develop it at a younger age, experience more serious complications, and die from it more frequently than their white female counterparts.
Bet you thought there was just one type of lupus. Nope. There are four different types of lupus. Each type has its own unique symptoms and treatments.