Differences and Similarities Between Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Posted Oct 03 2008 11:31am
When I was in second and third grade I had a wonderful teacher named Mrs. Duncan, she was a favorite and for a student who thought school was the bane of her existence, that is saying a whole lot! Just before Christmas of third grade, Mrs. Duncan became very ill and spent months away from school. We suddenly grew to appreciate her so much more when we met our naive, bland substitute teacher, who didn’t let us listen to music, read to us, or take us skating. School was once again torture and I spent most of the time day dreaming out the window. A few weeks after Christmas break, the principal came in and told us that Mrs. Duncan had Lupus and would return as soon as she was well enough. Not understanding as an 8 year old, that word, Lupus, has always stuck in my mind and even to this day when I come across it I think of my fabulous teacher, Mrs. Duncan.
It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and began informing myself, that I became more familiar with what Lupus actually is. Short for systemic lupus erythematosus, Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which like RA, that can involve joints and organs. Like all autoimmune diseases, the body’s immune system begins to attack its own cells and connective tissue. The actual reason a person contracts Lupus is still not completely understood but it is believed to involve genetic and environmental factors.
Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the symptoms between RA and Lupus, they are that similar. So let’s have a closer look at what Lupus symptoms commonly are.
The symptoms of Lupus vary but usually include a ‘butterfly-shaped’ rash that appears on the cheeks and across the bridge of the nose, pain and inflammation in joints, fatigue, hair loss, inflammation of the kidney (nephritis), discoid rash which is are scaly sores appearing on the chest, face and neck, sensitivity to light, mouth sores, fever, swollen glands and possible weight loss.
1.5 million Americans are estimated to have Lupus; women are 10 times more likely to be affected than men, and for some reason African or Asian ethnic backgrounds have a higher risk of developing this disease than any other ethnic background. Though Lupus can occur at any age, even in newborns, disease most commonly occurs between the ages of 18 and 45 years old.
In my next post I’ll be talking about the diagnosis and treatment process of Lupus is. Please feel free to share!