The Effects of Lupus on the Body

The Effects of Lupus on the Body

Lupus is a type of autoimmune disease. This means it causes your body’s immune system to attack healthy tissues and organs instead of only attacking foreign substances that could harm your body. The disease can cause widespread damage to areas of the body, including the joints, skin, heart, blood vessels, brain, kidneys, bones, and lungs.

There are several different kinds of lupus, each with slightly different triggers and symptoms. Researchers don’t know exactly what causes lupus, but we do know that genetics play a role and that it’s much more common in women.

Integumentary system

The majority of people with lupus experience some type of skin issue during the course of their disease. Skin involvement and symptoms can vary depending on the type of lupus you have and how active your lupus is.

One of the telltale signs of lupus is developing a rash on the face. Redness covers the nose and cheeks and looks like it’s in the shape of a butterfly. The rash is commonly called butterfly rash and usually appears on the face, but it can also show up on your arms, legs, or elsewhere on the body.

Lupus also causes your skin to be more sensitive to the sun or artificial ultraviolet light. Unprotected sun exposure can cause ring-shaped marks that can become red and scaly. These can form on your scalp and face, or other areas that get sun exposure, like your neck or arms.

Ulcers or sores can form in your mouth on the cheek or gums. They can also form on your nose, scalp, or vaginal tissue. These sores may not hurt at all or they might feel like a canker sore. They’re signs of inflammation from the disease and can be uncomfortable.

Sjogren’s syndrome is common in people with autoimmune disorders, like lupus. It causes your mouth and eyes to feel very dry. You might experience trouble speaking or swallowing, or have itchy, burning eyes.

Dry mouth can also put you at a higher risk of getting cavities, because saliva helps protect your teeth from bacteria. The cavities occur at the gumline and can strongly suggest the diagnosis of Sjogren’s.

Some people with lupus may experience alopecia, or hair loss. Lupus can cause hair to be dry or more brittle. Hair may break or fall out, particularly at the front of the forehead. The hair may grow back, or you may have permanent bald spots.

Endocrine system

The pancreas is a gland behind the stomach that controls digestion enzymes and hormones that regulate how your body processes sugar. If it can’t work properly, you’re at risk of infection, digestive problems, and diabetes.

Lupus can cause inflammation of the pancreas, called pancreatitis, either from inflamed blood vessels or medications, like steroids or immunosuppressants used to treat the disease.

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