October is Lupus Awareness Month, and health leaders in Pennine Lancashire are supporting LUPUS UK’s campaign to raise awareness of this condition and its symptoms.
Lupus is a long-term condition causing inflammation to the joints, skin and other organs. It is an auto-immune disease, meaning the immune system attacks healthy tissues.
The main symptoms are frequent joint pain and stiffness, extreme tiredness that won’t go away or skin rashes (often over the nose and cheeks). Other symptoms include weight loss, swollen glands, sensitivity to light (causing rashes on uncovered skin) and poor circulation in fingers and toes.
Dr David White, Clinical Lead for commissioning policies development for East Lancs and Blackburn with Darwen CCGs, said:
“If you have some of these symptoms then I suggest you make an appointment to see your GP. Although there’s currently no cure for lupus, symptoms can improve if treatment starts early.
“As these symptoms can also be linked to lots of other conditions, it can take some time to diagnose lupus. Generally the inflammation, fatigue, joint pain and skin rashes are treated with various medications. Your doctor will regularly test you for anemia and kidney problems, which lupus can cause.”
It’s not fully understood what causes lupus, but it can be triggered by a viral infection, strong medication, sunlight, puberty, childbirth and the menopause. More women than men get lupus, and it’s more common in black and Asian women.
Dr White added: “Although medicines are important to control lupus, you can help manage your symptoms and reduce the risk of it getting worse.
“Eat healthily, stop smoking and stay protected from the sun. Try to stay active when your condition flares up, but also get lots of rest and try to avoid stress as this can make symptoms worse.”