Facts About Lupus for Media Representatives Covering the Anna Nicole Smith Story
WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 LAWFUEL – Law News — In response to media interest in rumors surrounding the cause of death for Anna Nicole Smith being attributed to lupus, the Lupus Foundation of America is releasing a basic fact sheet about the disease. For additional information, please visit the LFA Web site at http://www.lupus.org/.
What is lupus?
— Lupus is a serious and life-threatening chronic (lifelong) autoimmune
disease that for unknown reasons causes the immune system to go into
hyper-drive and attack the body’s own tissue and organs, including the
skin, joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, blood and/or blood vessels.
What are the symptoms of lupus?
— Symptoms of lupus often mimic other less serious illnesses and
sometimes are dismissed.
— The most common symptoms of lupus are severe joint pain and swelling,
extreme fatigue or exhaustion, fevers, skin rashes (especially in the
shape of a butterfly across the cheeks and nose), pains in the chest
on deep breathing (pleurisy), anemia, kidney involvement,
photosensitivity (sunlight / UV light), hair loss, abnormal blood
clotting, seizures, and ulcers in the nose and mouth.
— Lupus fluctuates between periods of increased disease activity (called
flares) and periods of decreased disease activity (called remission),
where symptoms may not be noticeable.
Who gets lupus?
— Based on the results of several nationwide surveys, the Lupus
Foundation of America estimates that approximately 1.5 million to 2
million Americans have a form of lupus.
— Ninety percent of people with lupus are female. Approximately 80
percent of new cases develop among women of childbearing age (15 – 44).
What causes lupus?
— The exact cause(s) of lupus is not fully understood.
— Lupus is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and
— Researchers have not identified a specific gene(s) believed to be
responsible for making a person predisposed to lupus.
— Some of the factors that may trigger lupus include infections,
antibiotics, ultraviolet light / sunlight, extreme stress, certain
drugs, and hormones.
— Hormonal factors may explain why lupus occurs more frequently in
females than in males.
How is lupus diagnosed?
— Because many lupus symptoms mimic other illnesses, are sometimes vague,
and may come and go, lupus can be difficult to diagnose.
— Currently, there is no single laboratory test that can determine
whether a person has lupus or not.
— It may take months or even years for doctors to piece together evolving
symptoms and accurately diagnose lupus. A survey of LFA members found
that more than half suffered symptoms four or more years and visited
three or more doctors before being diagnosed with lupus.
— Diagnosis is usually made by a careful review of a person’s entire
medical history, physical examination, coupled with an analysis of the
results obtained in routine laboratory tests and some specialized tests
related to immune status.
How is lupus treated?
— Medications are often prescribed for people with lupus, depending on
which organs are involved, and the severity of involvement.
— Commonly prescribed medications include:
— non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),
— anti-malarials, and
— immunosuppressive drugs (such as chemotherapy).
— There has not been a new medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration specifically for lupus in more than 40 years.
— Hope is on the horizon, however, as there now are more than two dozen
biotech and pharmaceutical companies in various stages of developing
and testing potential new, safe and effective therapies for lupus.