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Healthbeat 4: World Lupus Day makes disease visible

“Lupus, we think of it as rare, but it is out there, it affects 1.5 million Americans,” said Dr. Kelly Delaney-Nelson, CNOS.
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 9:15 PM CDT
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease. However, 63% of Americans surveyed by the Lupus Foundation of America have never heard of lupus or know little or nothing about the disease.

Some symptoms can be a rash, joint pain or fatigue. It is difficult to diagnose the disease known as ‘The Great Imitator because the symptoms aren’t specific to lupus.

It is ten times more common in women, according to the American College of Rheumatology, posing a risk to pregnancy. The Lupus Foundation of America claims 90% of people with the autoimmune disease are women. Lupus is two to three times more common in minority women than in white women.

“We do see lupus a lot more commonly in young women typically of childbearing age, we don’t exactly understand all of the reasons why, but there is some speculation that our hormones play a role in why the immune system may break down some kind of dysregulation associated with the sex hormones that then can lead to problems with lupus,” said Dr. Delaney-Nelson

There are medications to treat lupus, but Dr. Delaney-Nelson said more research is needed.

“We just in the last two years have developed two new medications that have just come out onto the market for lupus nephritis, specifically, which is lupus of the kidneys... Some people, we’re able to get the disease under control fairly quickly. For some people it does take a while to find the right medication or combination of medications to hopefully control the disease,” said Dr. Delaney-Nelson

With no cure, if left untreated, it can be deadly.

“It’s more maintaining the disease and trying to reach remission, but most people deal with it for the rest of life,” said Dr. Delaney-Nelson.

Dr. Delaney-Nelson said if patients are able to get their lupus under control, most are able to lead a normal healthy life with a normal life expectancy.

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