An incurable disease we're facing head on
More research is needed to understand lupus, which affects 50,000 people - mainly women - in the UK alone. It is difficult to diagnose, and currently there is no cure.
What is lupus?
Lupus is a serious long-term autoimmune condition. It causes inflammation, which can spread throughout the body, triggering damage to the skin, organs and joints.
The most common symptoms are a butterfly-shaped rash over the nose and cheeks, joint pain and swelling, and fatigue. Other symptoms can include hair loss, fever and dry eyes. In more severe cases, inflammation can affect major organs including the heart, kidneys, lungs and brain.
Living with lupus can be very challenging, as patients have to deal with periods of flare-up and remission, and often experience ongoing pain. 65 per cent of people with lupus find dealing with pain the most difficult aspect of managing the disease.
While lupus can affect anyone, 90 per cent of cases are women and it is more common among Black and Asian populations.
Why is more research needed?
The causes of lupus are not yet fully understood, and it can be very difficult to diagnose as its symptoms can appear similar to other conditions. Triggers can include hormonal changes (like puberty and menopause), viral infections, certain medicines, and sunlight.
Late diagnoses are a significant problem, as delays to treatment can mean the body's organs undergo irreversible damage.
Depending on its progression, patients with lupus can manage their condition through lifestyle changes, anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids. However, there is currently no cure.
More research is needed to understand this complex disease and its causes, so that diagnosis and treatment can be improved for patients.
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