If you or a loved one has lupus, you know it’s difficult to describe and tough to treat. The symptoms range from mild rashes and fatigue to serious complications like damage to your kidneys, heart, lungs, or brain.
Perhaps the most mysterious part about lupus is why it does what it does. Regardless of how it manifests with different symptoms from person to person, lupus has the same underlying — and quite puzzling — aspect. It causes your body to attack itself. Your immune system is tricked into viewing your healthy cells and tissues as foreign bodies that need to be destroyed.
It seems there are more questions than answers about lupus, but when you want the straight facts, come see Jeffrey Miller, MD at Osteoporosis & Rheumatology Center of Tampa Bay, LLC.
While many unknowns surround lupus, there is also a lot we do know. Dr. Miller has compiled a list of common myths about lupus and the facts that set the record straight.
Myth #1: Lupus is a woman’s disease
In fact, while most people affected by lupus are women (up to 90%), it also affects men. Both genders experience many of the same symptoms, such as fatigue, joint pain, digestion problems, and shortness of breath, but kidney and skin issues tend to be more prevalent in men.
Myth #2: Lupus is like HIV
In fact, both lupus and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are autoimmune disorders. That means they both cause your body to attack its own healthy tissues, but that’s where the similarities end.
Their causes, symptoms, and actions are different. If you have HIV, your immune system is sluggish and underactive; if you have lupus, your immune system is hyperactive.
Myth #3: Lupus is a cancer
In fact, although some of the medications for lupus that are designed to suppress your immune system are the same you might find in some chemotherapy treatments for cancer, the two conditions are completely different.
With cancer, you have malignant tissues that grow quickly and spread throughout your body. With lupus, your immune system attacks its own tissues and destroys them.
Myth #4: Lupus is contagious
In fact, when you have lupus, you have a deficiency in your immune system. It’s not caused by bacteria or viruses, so it’s not contagious. You can still safely be in the same room with other people because it’s not airborne. You can also safely have sex without worrying about giving lupus to your partner, because it’s not passed through bodily fluids or skin-to-skin contact.
Myth #5: Lupus is fatal
In fact, lupus is not a death sentence. However, different people respond differently to lupus. Some have only mild-to-moderate symptoms, and others face life-threatening complications. In some cases, lupus can affect your cardiovascular system, which may lead to:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Atherosclerosis (cholesterol buildup in the arteries)
- Pericarditis (inflammation of the fluid around the heart)
- Endocarditis (growths on the heart valves)
- Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle)
Myth #6: Lupus means you can’t or shouldn’t get pregnant
In fact, you can have lupus and have a safe, full-term pregnancy. However, if you do get pregnant while you have lupus, you’ll be considered at high risk for complications, such as:
What to do if you have lupus
Because the symptoms of lupus are often serious and usually chronic, it’s important to see a medical professional who is trained to accurately diagnose your condition and effectively treat it. Dr. Miller is trusted throughout the Tampa area to help people manage their lupus symptoms and increase their quality of life.
Call us today to schedule a consultation to find out how Dr. Miller can relieve your lupus symptoms.