Identifying an autoimmune disease is not an easy task and lupus is no exception. Due to its various, copycat symptoms, doctors cannot tell for sure what causes lupus. What lupus causes in its victims, on the other hand, is not as hard to tell or observe: pain, discomfort and in many cases even depression.
What Causes Lupus?
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), better known as lupus, is an autoimmune affliction that has a deep impact on several organs in the human body. The American College of Rheumatology made a list of eleven symptoms which describe the condition best. If four out of these symptoms are confirmed in a patient, a diagnosis can be made and this is due to the fact that most of the symptoms of lupus are frequently encountered in other medical conditions.
Unfortunately, it is the symptomatology of this condition that makes the causes of lupus so hard to pinpoint. One hypothesis is that the condition’s origins are genetic. This statement is based on the fact that in many cases lupus has a hereditary characteristic. However, there are thousands of families in which only one or only a few members are affected, therefore this theory is not conclusive.
Statistically speaking, 90% of the people affected by lupus are women. Specialists use these numbers to investigate hormones as a possible cause of lupus. In addition, African American and Hispanic women seem to develop lupus more often than Caucasian women. However, so far there is no scientific proof that any of the female hormones cause lupus.
Other lupus causes could be environmental: exposure to sunlight, stress, pollution and even medication. Again, however, this interpretation does not stand strong, because lupus mainly affects people of ages between 15 and 45 and not below or over.
Infections are also believed to be among the causes of lupus. The Epstein-Barr virus is a very common cause of infection in humans, causing fever and sore throat. After being treated, the virus doesn’t disappear but remains dormant. Although a clear explanation cannot be given at this point, the presence of the Epstein-Barr seems to trigger the development of lupus.
Chemicals seem to play their own role in the evolution of this condition. People who work in hazardous environments and come into contact with mercury or silica, present an increased risk of developing lupus.
It’s hard to say what causes lupus. Despite the fact that the condition has been categorized into four major types – systemic lupus erythematosus, discoid lupus, drug-induced lupus, and neonatal lupus, doctors have difficulty in understanding its patterns so far. Although drug-induced lupus – the type of lupus caused by medication – seems to diminish after the triggering medication is stopped, there isn’t enough data to connect its nature with the other types of lupus.
Lupus causes pain, discomfort and most important of all, depression in its victims. It uses its various symptoms to masquerade as other diseases and it causes emotional distress not only for the afflicted persons but their loved ones as well. It is very important to understand that lupus is not contagious and that maintaining an optimistic and supportive attitude can greatly benefit those affected.
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