Rheumatalogy

Be aware of lupus, a chronic disease

When popular singer Toni Braxton took to the stage recently, she performed with a heart monitor visibly attached to her chest.

Braxton must wear the device to guard against heart attacks or strokes. Since 2010, she has been battling a condition called lupus and has had several stays in a hospital.

Braxton isn’t the only singer affected by lupus. Pop star Selena Gomez recently took time off to deal with symptoms from the illness.

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage skin, joints, and organs. Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years.

In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs. Many health experts believe that lupus develops in response to a combination of factors inside and outside the body, including hormones, genetics, and environment.

Other key facts about lupus:

  • About 1.5 million Americans are thought to have the disease, which strikes mostly women of childbearing age (15-44). However, men, children, and teenagers can develop lupus, too.
  • Lupus is not contagious, even through sexual contact.
  • Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor. With proper medical care, most people with lupus can lead a full life.

Among the most common symptoms of lupus are: extreme fatigue; headaches; swelling in the feet, legs, hands and around eyes, and a butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose.

At Signature Medical Group, our rheumatologists are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as lupus. We offer the most up to date care in comfortable, friendly surroundings.

If you’re experiencing some of these conditions or have other concerns, make an appointment today to see one our specialists.